While the government develops roads in the city at a breakneck pace, it has been unable to come up with a solution to the problem of parking.
The Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) identified around a dozen sites for parking plazas last year that were to ease the parking issue at the city’s busiest areas. However, work on only one parking plaza for motorbikes at Jail Road was started, and that too has now stopped.
Currently, most vehicles must park at the side of the road or at parking stands. Some of these parking stands now take up half the road – at The Mall, Lower Mall, Mcleod Road, Montgomery Road, Brandreth Road, Circular Road and Hall Road – creating major traffic jams.
The city government’s Department of Public Facilities had claimed last year to have come up with software for parking stands that would help them work more efficiently. Kunwar Usman Saeed, district officer for public facilities, said that an error in the software had been found and the project had to be dumped.
“Road development is important for smooth flow of traffic but the administration should also tackle the parking issue, which is now turning into a parking crisis for us,” said Naveed Akhter, who owns a business on Hall Road. He said the lack of parking space meant constant traffic jams on Hall Road and this was turning customers away.
Lahore Commissioner Jawad Rafique Malik said that the government had invited private investors to build parking plazas in the city on a build-operate-transfer basis, but no one had expressed an interest. He said that the government’s experience with the Liberty Park and Ride Plaza had made it think again about building parking plazas.
“The parking plazas we have already constructed are not being fully utilised,” said Malik. “Shoppers prefer to park their car near the shop they want to go to. They are not interested in using the Park and Ride Plaza.”
He said that business owners toodid not cooperate with the administration, as they always wanted to park their own cars in front of their shops and wanted their customers to be able to park close-by too.
Rafique said that the plans to build parking plazas had not been ditched, but the government was also working with a Turkish company to come up with a streamlined parking system. The Turkish firm, ISBAK, is also helping the Punjab government with its Intelligent Transport System (ITS) project. “Hopefully, within a year citizens will see a surprising change in the parking system,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2012.
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