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RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has requested the government to pay Rs5 million in rent for using the basement in the Fawara Chowk Parking Plaza in Raja Bazaar as a shelter home.

The parking plaza was converted into a shelter home on the directives of the Punjab government. The plaza is one of the main income sources of the civic agency, which earns money from collecting fee from motorists.

A senior RDA officer told Dawn that more than 1,000 motorbikes used to be parked in the basement before the shelter home was established.

He said the parking plaza is RDA property and the government should pay rent for using it as it has lost its income and wants funds to run its affairs.

The official said the civic body is working on establishing more parking plazas in the city to overcome the shortage of parking space and improve its earning. However, he said, there is no vacant space in the downtown area.

RDA Chairman Arif Abbasi said the civic body has sent a request to Lahore for rent for the use of the basement.

“We are working on allocating some space for motorcycles in the vacant plot on Jinnah Road,” he said, and that the civic body will establish 10 parking plazas in and around the main markets of the city areas.

The traffic police have been directed to help the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation and RDA to select sites for parking plazas, Mr Abbasi said.

He added that the shelter home is a good initiative and that it has more than 150 people now.

On the other hand, RDA is using two floors of the parking plaza but they are not enough to cater to shoppers in nearby markets, who end up parking on the roadside, creating a traffic mess.

Talking to Dawn Rawalpindi Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir stressed on the need for more parking plazas in the main bazaars.

He said he and other traders also park their cars along roads as there is no space elsewhere. Traders are already facing a financial crises due to the economic conditions in the country, he said, and that their business is also being affected due to the traffic congestion and lack of parking.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019