RAWALPINDI: Traders have criticised the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board’s (RCB) decision to impose a fee for parking on the side of the road in Saddar, announcing plans to begin a protest next week if the decision is not withdrawn.

The RCB has awarded a contract to collect Rs50 per hour in parking fees from cars parking on roadsides, as well as Rs20 per hour from motorcycles on Bank Road near Singapore Plaza.

After the new fees were imposed, the Cantonment Traders Association called an emergency meeting chaired by Sheikh Hafeez Ahmed and attended by Secretary General Zafar Qadri and other office bearers, where it was decided that they would begin holding protest demonstrations against the RCB president next week.

Mr Qadri told Dawn that during the meeting, traders criticised the cantonment’s project to approve the car parking contract.

RCB awards contract to collect Rs50 per hour parking fee from cars and Rs20 per hour from motorcycles on Bank Road

He said the traders have demanded the contract be cancelled immediately because they were not taken on board.

“It has become a habit for the civic body to make decisions without consulting with stakeholders on such issues,” he said.

He added that the RCB has to arrange parking spaces, but there is no law authorising it to charge fees on roadside parking space allocated by commercial buildings in front of shops.

Mr Qadri said that the Rs50 per hour fee would lead to fights, as cars will have to pay on every visit, and these fees were unacceptable to citizens and traders.

“The business representatives decided that there would be a full scale protest and if this system is not abolished, the traders will not shy away from going on strike and the cantonment administration will be responsible for the circumstances,” he said.

RCB spokesperson said the parking fees were imposed last year, but were not implemented because the board was working on constructing pavements and improving the condition of the roads.

He said that with the development work complete, the RCB is charging fees from vehicles parked on the sides of the road. He added that the development work was carried out on the demands of traders.

Another senior RCB official said that the board has made two car parks for visitors and shopkeepers: a 110,000 square feet plot between Haider Road and Bank Road that has the capacity to hold 1,000 cars, and a plot on 31 The Mall that measures 61,000 sq ft.

He said these car parks are free, but are not used by visitors or shopkeepers.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2020