ISLAMABAD: A massive increase in the number of vehicles during the last two decades and poor implementation of bylaws are the main reasons behind the shrinking parking spaces in the capital city.

CDA officials Dawn spoke to agreed that poor implementation of the bylaws was one of the main reasons behind the parking issue which was being faced by citizens for the last many years.

They said that parking spaces had been designed in markets and plazas in accordance with number of shops but with the passages of time shop owners alerted the layout plan, increasing the number of shops. During the last two decades, the number of cars also increased manifold but parking spaces were not expanded, resulting into the shortage.

“The numbers of shops have increased in all class three shopping centres, while in marakis there is also slight violations of original layout plans. For example, just visit G-7, there is class three shopping centre – Gulshan market - which had only nine shops [units] in the 70s but now the number is over 70 as owners have made almost eight small shops in one unit. So the flow of customers have also increased significantly that is causing parking issue,” said an official of CDA.

Similarly, he said the situation in G-7 markaz was also not different where the numbers of shops have increased and even some shops opened in verandas as well while a hotel and several other shops are being run on a plot which was reserved for a cinema.

“These are examples of just two markets. A visit to other markets will reveal more such facts,” said an official, adding in Zero Point there was the Industries and Trade (I&T) Centre adjacent to the newspapers’ office. Now motor mechanics have encroached on both the small roads passing through the centre by narrowing down their width.

The CDA officials said that Blue Area was also facing a serious parking issue. Moreover, due to poor planning, the district courts were operating in F-8 markaz, causing a massive parking issue.

CDA’s spokesperson Syed Asif Raza could not be contacted for comments on Sunday. However, a senior officer of the CDA said poor implementation of bylaws was not the major factor behind the parking issue. He said the phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles and shortage of parking lots were the main reasons. He said the CDA had been working to expand parking spaces and introducing bus services on various routes that will reduce the use of cars.

The officer also said that in addition to the bus service, the CDA was also planning to go for the paid parking concept. He said that the issue of F-8 courts was going to be resolved for good as 93 courts were being built in G-11 which were near completion while in Blue Area construction work on a parking plaza was in progress.

The officer said recently Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) and the CDA in principle agreed that paid parking was one of the solutions to overcome the parking issue in the city.

A team of PIDE headed by Vice Chancellor Dr Nadeemul Haque held a meeting with a CDA team headed by Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed on Thursday at the CDA headquarters to discuss various options.

PIDE is helping the civic agency find out effective solutions to parking issues.

“During the meeting, it was discussed that due to high traffic pressure on roads and lack of effective parking arrangements, citizens face problems like traffic jams. In this regard, paid parking plazas will be constructed in areas where there is more traffic and parking problems.”

The plaza being built in Blue Area will be a test case,” said a press release issued by CDA after the meeting.

It said before implementation, all stakeholders, including the business community, will be taken into confidence. Later, it will be implemented in other areas also.

“These measures will not only increase revenue but also help in better handling parking managements. The CDA chairman appreciated the proposal given by PIDE and said it should be implemented immediately,” it said.

Blue Area, the main commercial hub of the capital, has been facing parking problems.

As per the master plan for the area, six parking plazas were to be constructed in Blue Area and the sites were identified, but no effort was ever made to create these parking spaces until last year. Currently, the first parking plaza is being constructed in G-7 portion of Blue Area.

In 2016, the Islamabad Traffic Police had written to the CDA regarding the shortage of parking spaces in Blue Area and other commercial centres, including F-8 Markaz.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022

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