An eyesore in Riyadh: Abandoned cars in Saudi Arabia

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A large number of abandoned cars in districts across Riyadh continue to worry residents, who complain that the cars remain abandoned for months and that the authorities fail to tow them away, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

Abandoned cars, a constant eyesore for residents, are often seen gathering dust close to mosques, car workshops and in public car parks.

Residents are, as a result, calling on the authorities to remove the cars or call owners to take responsibility for their removal.

In its report last year on abandoned vehicles, Riyadh Municipality said it had towed away 4,061 vehicles and that owners who came forward were fined.

The report added that 43,284 abandoned and broken down vehicles had been towed away over the past 10 years.

In 2004, the municipality towed away some 7,325 vehicles, and some 6,561 in 2005, 5,699 in 2006, 4,866 in 2007, 3,194 in 2008, 3,078 in 2010, 2,877 in 2011 and 1,937 in 2012.

The municipality usually gives owners a grace period to remove their cars. Members of the public can report abandoned vehicles by ringing 940.

Municipalities across the Kingdom are required to enforce the municipal penalty regulations issued in 2002 by Royal Decree No. 218, which stipulate “leaving a broken vehicle or machine in squares, streets, or parking lots for a period of seven days subjects its owner to a fine ranging from SR200 to SR500.”

The regulations also stipulate that abandoned vehicles or machines will be towed away, that the costs would be borne by the owner if he comes forward, and that they would be sold in case of him not turning up within three months.

The regulations also state that owners forfeit their ownership if their vehicles remain unclaimed for three months.

Owners who do not want their vehicles that have been impounded can hand over their vehicle registration documents to the Traffic Department and relinquish ownership rights.

Owners wishing to reclaim their cars would have to pay, in addition to the fine, a towing fee of SR150 and a storage fee of SR100. These fines, however, do not apply to stolen vehicles.

Khalaf Al-Eneizi, who lives in the Al-Naseem district of Riyadh, said the municipality failed to tow away a vehicle that had been parked on the street for two years.

“The vehicle has become a shelter for stray dogs and cats. Someone could steal the vehicle registration plate and put it on another car and use the car to commit a crime,” said Al-Eneizi.

Khalid Al-Mutairi, a resident of the same neighborhood, said he reported an abandoned vehicle to the police but no action has been taken so far.

“Some teenagers use the vehicle to smoke cigarettes in it and carry out other negative behavior,” Al-Mutairi said.

A number of residents of the Swaidi, Al-Shifa Industrial and Alulaya neighborhoods in Riyadh called for the municipality and the police to resolve the problem of abandoned vehicles in their neighborhoods.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Feb.21, 2015.