Motorists parking vehicles in the premises of mosques during non-prayer time face a fine of minimum QR300. The General Directorate of Traffic has started imposing the fine. The move, enforced in collaboration with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, aims to free parking spaces in mosques for worshippers. With parking lots at many mosques remaining occupied, worshippers have hard time finding space to park their vehicles.
Details about the action were disclosed by officials from the ministry and Traffic Department in a joint press conference, yesterday.
“The Traffic Department is now applying parking fines mentioned in the traffic law on vehicles occupying parking lots at mosques premises during non-prayer times,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Radi Al Hajri, Director of Media and Awareness at the Traffic Department.
“The action is being taken according to the article No. 77 of traffic law which states that vehicles should be parked only in designated parking lots,” he added.
This would mean that the parking lots in mosque premises are no longer open to the public during non-prayer time.
“The fine is QR 300 and the erring vehicle could be towed away in case of a repetition of the violation, along with other necessary actions as per the law” said the official.
“The move is to ensure the availability of parking spaces for worshippers. Occupying parking lots of mosques has became a phenomenon. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior under which the Traffic Department falls and Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs have come forward to put an end this practice,” he added.
The two sides signed an agreement about an year ago to curb this violation and an awareness drive was launched to stop the practice.
Campaign helped reduce mosque parking violations
Apart from the regular traffic patrolling, special patrols will be deployed to detect violations, based on tip off from Imams or the officials of mosques management department. Parking areas of some mosques are equipped with CCTV cameras that will be also used to detect the erring motorists, said Al Hajari.
He added that parking lots of mosques are occupied mostly during night especially after Isha (night prayer).
“The Mosques Management Department organised an awareness campaign from January to December to curb this phenomenon,” said Mohamd bin Hamad Al Kuwari,Head of the Department.
“The campaign helped reduce the violation by 30 per cent. We hope the penalty would put an end to this practice,” said Al Kuwari.
According to officials, non-prayer times are usually half-an-hour before and after the prayers. However, some mosques remain open after some prayers if the timing of the next prayer is very close. Cars are allowed at mosques premises when it is open, as some motorist may be praying inside. But, presence of cars when the mosques are closed is questionable, the officials stressed.
“More than 10,000 pamphlets and similar number of posters were distributed to raise awareness on the issue. At least 200 signboards were placed at 120 mosques to educate motorists. Some 1,200 signboards are also being made to place in 800 mosques across the country. Imams have been asked to inform the people about this illegal practice during the Friday sermon,” said Al Kuwari.