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Shoppers welcome but not their cars

July 25, 2012

RAWALPINDI, July 24: Visitors to a commercial plaza in Saddar are being denied parking in the space allocated for the purpose and forced to use The Mall instead, creating traffic chaos in the area.

Right in front of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) offices, the commercial plaza having chemist shops is violating the civic body’s building rules.Mostly visitors to these bazaars parked their vehicles on the adjoining road connecting The Mall with Haider Road. Due to this, the 15-minute drive from Military Hospital to General Post Office takes about 30 minutes extra.

“It is difficult for shoppers to find out a place to park their vehicle at The Mall,” said Sheikh Saddique, a visitor to the chemist shops. He said it was the duty of the civic authority to provide parking facility to the people and create more space as the population of the city was growing fast.

Another visitor, Ashar Ali, said a security guard deployed at the parking area of the plaza asked him to park his motorcycle on the road as the owners of the chemist shops were not allowing people to park their vehicles despite being their costumers.

He said the cantonment board had failed to clear the roads from encroachments and given a free hand to commercial plazas’ owners to violate rules and regulations, adding to the traffic chaos.

The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) is already aware of the problem but has done nothing to resolve it. It is the duty of the RCB to ensure parking space in shopping malls.

According to the building rules, all shopping plazas, markets and trading centres must have parking lots. However, the shop owners violate the rules in connivance with the RCB officials.

“Yes, it is a violation of cantonment laws as every commercial plaza owner should have to allocate 25 per cent of its building’s covered area for parking. The civic body would not allow anyone to park vehicles on the road creating hurdle in smooth flow of traffic,” said RCB chief engineer Niaz Asghar while talking to Dawn.

He said he had come to the department a few days back and would check the record and take action if any violation was being committed.

The RCB officials requesting anonymity said they had taken action against the commercial plaza but the chemist shops’ owners – one of them a PML-N MPA from Dhoke Ratta - managed to hold a protest and stopped the operation.

When contacted, a chemist shop owner requesting not be named said every shopkeeper in the plaza was property owner of his area. He said the building was constructed before the enforcement of parking space law.

He said the association of chemists had got permission from the local police to park the visitors’ vehicles in one lane of The Mall.

Chief Traffic Officer Syed Ishtiaq Shah said the traffic police had already declared The Mall as no-parking place. To enforce the ban, he added, two traffic wardens had been deputed in the area.

When his attention was drawn towards the haphazard parking on The Mall in front of cantonment board offices, he said the traffic wardens allowed only those consumers who came to purchase medicine in an emergency.