ISLAMABAD - Over the years, the unbridled population growth, expansion of residential and commercial areas and increase in vehicles numbers had made parking a major challenge for the residents of the capital. 

Looking into the shrinking space that often makes mobility a yeoman’s job brings the realization that the authorities concerned are either in deep slumber or in the state of denial. Therefore, the delayed attention towards this issue brought in an irksome challenge of most often seeking space to park their vehicles.

Owing to lack of space outside offices, shopping malls, and business centers, vehicles are being parked wherever the car owners find space and shade, causing inconvenience to others. Therefore, verbal brawls have become common on the “right or wrong parking” issues.

Similarly, parking violation is very common and we usually see cars parked at places of no parking and sometimes even right in front of “No Parking” board.

The issue is directly related to number of vehicles plying on capital’s road as over the years. On the other hand, the parking space more or less remains the same adding to woes of commuters.

“Issue of parking has become more chaotic in commercial areas of the capital like Blue Area, Aabpara, Melody, Super and Jinnah Supper Markets,” said Adil Abbasi, a daily commuter on the Expressway. “Limited public transport and expensive cab rides have increased the need for personal vehicles that eventually resulted in parking problems.”

Hundreds of thousands vehicles other than those registered in the capital ply across the ICT jurisdiction stuffing the city roads. “Approximately 400,000 vehicles come in and go out of the city daily on average while the number of cars and different vehicles owned by residents are almost the same,” a senior official in Islamabad Traffic Police said. “This number increases during duty hours and on weekends, festivals and tourism season.” 

He said the number of vehicles is also increasing because most of people prefer to use their own vehicles instead of public transport. “Therefore, the government needs to introduce faster, safer and comfortable metro train or transport system in the ever spreading capital.”

Riaz Khan, a senior citizen, blamed the city managers for parking problems in the city, claiming that they allowed construction of plazas and shopping malls without parking place. “Resultantly, the commuters park their vehicles on roadside or the green belts.”

“In most of cases plazas owners have rented out open space to vendors to the utter neglect of the administration. This tendency is equally irksome for the commuters as well as pedestrians,” he said. “I fail to understand why plazas and malls are approved without parking space.”

The residents also raise question on whether the master plan for the capital was fully abided by while allowing construction activities.

 “The capital’s initial Master Plan has either been violated or amended since commercial areas are increasing without allocating sufficient space for car parks, compromising beauty of the city,” said Babar Saleem, a social activist. 

Residents have also complained of the authorities’ failure in constructing basement or rooftop parking as in practice at busy international cities.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) had constructed a few parking plazas in business centers but those have also fallen short due to increasing vehicles numbers. Some months ago, the CDA had announced constructing six multi-story parking plazas to resolve the issue in the capital. 

A senior official in CDA’s Planning Directorate said parking plazas have been planned and designed with every plaza having five to eight floors. “The rooftops of these plazas will be reserved for gardening. Other facilities would include mini shopping areas, food courts and cinemas.”   

He regretted the attitude of shopkeepers for illegally renting out the parking spaces to vendors. “Sometimes it is attitude problem and we need to sensitize the shop owners and commuters on parking issues. We also need vibrant role of traffic police to address this issue.”

As he informed about construction of parking plaza in Blue Area, the official said it will have space to park 800 vehicles and owners would be charged a nominal parking fee.

Giving further details of action to overcome this issue, he said, the lane marking in existing parking plaza was being ensured to discourage haphazard parking and to accommodate maximum vehicles.

“The authority was also considering paid parking and congestion fees like other countries as a better transport system was essential to balance traffic flow in the capital,” he added.

The official said Green and Blue line buses are already playing from Bharakahu and Koral to PIMS whereas Orange Line Metro Bus was operating from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad International Airport. “This venture has also reduced some pressure on our main arteries.”

Similarly, various studies were being conducted for implementation of the feeder route network to link Metro with Marakiz. Under the network, a bus will be available to every citizen after 200 meters in the sector areas.