The decision to charge a flat rate of “QR15 for three hours” at the parking lot adjacent to the Fanar Cultural Centre for Islamic Studies has drawn the ire of many regular visitors to the area.
Printed boldly on the ticket being issued to motorists is a statement that the charges start from “a maximum of QR15 for first three hours and QR3 for each subsequent hours”. In effect, it translates into a minimum charge of QR15 which is valid for three hours.
To make the matter worse and contrary to common practice, motorists are being asked to pay the QR15 on entry and not when leaving, causing many visitors to wonder aloud.
During a visit to the parking by this reporter yesterday, security staff wearing uniforms bearing Al Rayyan Car Parking Management badges, were seen issuing tickets and collecting money from every approaching vehicle.
When queried why they were issuing tickets manually and also collecting money on entry, the security men said the automatic vending machines were yet to be activated.
Apart from being situated in a prime location close to places like Souq Waqif and the Corniche, the parking lot has no special features warranting such fees. It has narrow alleys and is without the normal tarpaulin roof.
Driving in and out of the lots, that could accommodate around 100 vehicles, is a bit difficult as both its entrance and exit are located at odd ends of the parking ground.
Initially, the parking was free and open to all visitors to the area, especially those going to Fanar for congregational prayers every Friday.
Some visitors to the area who spoke to Gulf Times lashed out at the new system, describing the parking fee as a rip off.
“What is the luxury in this parking that makes it worth QR15 to leave your car here?” one user queried, while lamenting that he had been forced to shell out the amount on a Friday when he came for Jumah prayers in Fanar.
It has become increasingly difficult these days to find a parking space at most souqs and shopping malls, especially during the peak hours. This has led to the mushrooming of paid parking areas at popular destinations in the country.
“This is the first place where motorists are being asked to pay before service,” a souq-goer lamented.
“We come here almost every Friday to observe Jumah prayers and this is where some of us usually leave our cars once the underground parking belonging to Fanar is full. But since the fee is being charged, we have been facing difficulties,” another expatriate said.
However, contrary to the QR15 entry fee being collected by the security-cum-cashier at the gate, this reporter found a notice board, tucked away behind one of the security posts belonging to a popular bank within the Fanar building, which states that entry fees to the parking for first hour is QR3 and charges for subsequent hours is QR1.
“Entry fee QR3 for first hour; fees are calculated QR1 per hour; for lost ticket, the charge is QR30 to re-issue the ticket from automatic pay station,” the notice reads both in Arabic and English.
The information on the notice board seems congruent to nearby Souq Waqif and other souqs - the City Center Mall charges QR3 for the first hour and nothing if the motorist stays for less than 15 minutes.
Why the management of the parking has decided to do away with the notice and charge a different fee baffles many.
Some people are also puzzled at the policy followed as countless motorists are allowed entry into the parking without any charge once they claim to be visiting Fanar or a bank nearby.
A section of the lots, which is sealed and manned by a different security guard, also sitting outside in the sun, is said to be reserved for the bank and its customers.
“We know that a number of paid parking system is coming up in the area around Souq Waqif and other souqs on the opposite side, but none is charging this kind of a fee,” a visitor wondered.
Efforts to get the security personnel comment further or on how to locate the parking operator were not successful.
Follow us on our social media channels: