With the closure of the parking space outside the Polo Ground, visitors are left with the dilemma where to park their vehicles. One option is the newly constructed underground Baradari Car Parking (BCP) but car owners would have to pay Rs50 for three hours as opposed to Rs10 while bike owners would pay Rs20 instead of Rs5.
The parking space, where people used to park their cars and bikes before going for a jog or playing football, has been occupied by the BCP contractor, Musafa International. The contractor claimed that they have been allotted the space by the government. “It’s all covered under the contract,” said an official.
The parking lot between the Baradari Park and Polo Ground has been used for years to park vehicles against nominal charges of Rs5 for a bike and Rs10 for a car.
“I have received similar complaints,” said the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) charged car parking director, Raza Abbas. “We need to sort it out with the contractor. I can’t make further comment at this moment.”
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad inaugurated the BCP on February 25 amid much fanfare. It is a joint project between the KMC and Pearl Continental Hotel, and has been entirely funded by the latter.
The two-storey parking for 600 cars raised a controversy as it has been built underneath Baradari Ground, which is an amenity plot. KMC insists that it has been constructed to ease traffic congestion around PIDC.
Since its construction, the number of people coming to Polo Ground has dropped significantly, said Abdul Aziz Baloch, a KMC watchman. “There used to be 30 to 40 bikes parked here all the time,” he said while pointing at the now-empty parking lot which is big enough to accommodate 130 cars. “People who work at the offices along II Chundrigarh Road would often come here to jog in the evening. No one will now pay Rs50 a day.”
General parks director, Liaquat Ali Khan, also appeared to be unaware of the situation. “They might have taken this step to ensure that people start using the BCP.”
The Baradari has been used to host official functions including musical and flower shows. All along KMC officials, including administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed, had maintained that the BCP will not be inaugurated until the Baradari Park was restored to its original shape.
Early last month, during a visit to the park, Syed had even threatened to seal the parking lot if the park was not completed by February 15.
Khan said that the park was almost complete and the only thing left was the grass which is being planted. “It will be completed in few days.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2012.