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Son of the cedars
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Sidon hopes new meter system will help alleviate parking problems
By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Thursday, May 17, 2007

SIDON: Motorists should no longer struggle to find parking spaces in Sidon after the municipality introduced a meter system intended to improve the organization of the city's public-parking areas. About 250 parking meters now line the curbs of Sidon's streets, so shopowners no longer have to worry about securing parking spaces for their customers, while police officers are no longer obligated to deal with parking violations.

The meters take a minimum of LL250, which entitles drivers to 20 minutes of parking, while each additional 20-minute block costs another LL250.

When time expires for a space or when fees are left unpaid, a special "boot" will be attached to the offending car's front wheel and prevent it from moving. The car will be released only when the owner pays a fine of LL5,000.

However, in an attempt to encourage Sidon residents to make use of the meters, the municipality has lowered the fine to LL1,000 during the introduction of the devices.

Sidon Mayor Abdel-Rahman Bizri told The Daily Star that his municipality decided to sow Sidon's streets with parking meters "a couple of years ago, but the government took two long years to endorse our proposal."

Bizri said additional parking meters can be erected in Sidon's streets upon the request of merchants who suffer from a lack of parking spaces for their customers.

"The idea was implemented in Tripoli and proved to be a success, and we decided to do the same here in Sidon, and up until now results are impressive," he added.

By the end of the year, approximately 1,500 parking meters will stand alongside the city's streets, Bizri said.

"Our next step will be to set up parking meters along Sidon's seafront highway" in cooperation with the World Bank, Bizri said.

Nabil Mekkawi, the owner of a Sidon photography center, said he was satisfied with the move and "delighted at the idea that more people will visit the market because a lot of parking places will be available."
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