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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 07/06/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Unauthorised agents of used car showrooms add to the chaos in the sharjah area

agents of used car showrooms and customers bargaining in the abu shagara area of sharjah in the evening hours of friday when the business usually peaks . — kt photos by m. sajjad

if you happen to have a car and live in the abu shagara residential area of sharjah the first thing on your mind everyday could be how to return home before 5pm. otherwise it could be a long haul counting your luck and trundling through the bylanes to find a parking space for hours.

it’s not that abu shagara doesn’t have enough parking spaces for residents living there. it’s just that the “showpieces” of the ubiquitous used car showrooms in the area have occupied most of them. the area has nearly 460 used car showrooms.

plus your hunt for a parking space or just a drive through the lanes would bump into hordes of “agent sharks” lining up the streets and asking “car for sale?” or “want this beauty?”. they won’t budge from the middle of the road even when your car approaches them. the chances are one of them would open the door and occupy a seat if you are moving too slowly and have forgotten to centrally lock the doors. all in the name of business.

not just motorists but residents also complain that these canvassers and cars of some showrooms parked haphazardly make it difficult for them to walk especially in the evenings when the used car sale is at its peak.

the majority of these brokers or business agents are illegal residents and people who have lost jobs.

owners of some used car showrooms say these are unemployed people hired by some showrooms for small commissions to canvass buyers or sellers. such a practice is a blow to the showrooms that follow the rules and regulations they say.

one such owner khalid abdul gadir said some of the used car sellers and showroom owners get these agents or brokers to bring in customers from the streets. the brokers are being paid five to 10 per cent of the selling price.

imtinan gafoor a broker seen on a street said: “i have a legal residency visa but i lost my job recently. i have families to support and i have to survive till i get another job. similar situations have forced several others also to get into activities like canvassing business for used car shops selling prepaid phone credits running private taxis or washing cars on streets.

“the authorities are not considering the situation of people like me. they keep following us everywhere. making money this way is better than committing a crime. if the police and municipality close all avenues the unemployed people who have visas and are waiting for alternative jobs would be forced to committing thefts or other crimes.”

what officials say

asked about the illegal practice a top official at the market control section in the sharjah municipality said they have intensified inspections in abu shagara. the municipality recently issued identity cards to the owners of used car showrooms and their staff.

the employees of showrooms are obliged to show the id cards when dealing with municipality officials and customers.

he added that the municipality is studying the feasibility of a car auction process to provide opportunities for those who want to buy and sell used cars in a legal and organised manner.

major salem heraimil head of the illegals follow-up section at the sharjah police said the problem of illegal agents has become more acute of late and they have received a large number of complaints in this regard. the police have intensified patrolling in the abu shagara used car market. most of the unlicensed brokers caught during earlier inspections were people without jobs and whose visas were not cancelled.

“the police are coordinating with the municipality to crack down on all illegal activities including traffic violations. our patrolling has been intensified in the area to ensure safety and security for the residents” major heraimil said.

where is the new market

there have been announcements of shifting the used car market from abu shagara to al roq’ah al hamra area located between sharjah and ajman since 2005. the last one was in september 2013 when shaikh khaled bin saqr al qasimi member of the sharjah executive council and chairman of the directorate of public works stated that 53 per cent of the infrastructure work of the project had been completed. no further progress report of the project has come out ever since.

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