LAHORE - Parking space is shrinking day by day as more and more vehicles are coming on the roads. As many as 4 million vehicles have been registered in Lahore in the past decade, according to the data collected from the Motor Registration Authority of the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department.

The vehicles include motorcycles, cars, SUVs, rickshaws, ambulances, tractors, trucks, vans and cabs.

In a big and important city like Lahore such a large number of vehicles on roads should not be a matter of surprise, but the city planners are unvary of the situation. There are few places in the city where parking arrangements have been made with systematic urban planning. The existing parking plazas, only four in number, constructed at a few crowded markets are not catering to the parking needs.

In any civilized society, parking spaces are allocated as an essential part of urban planning.  Citizens face problems due to lack of organized parking spaces. Due to lack of parking plazas and parking lots, people are forced to park their vehicles on busy roads leading to huge traffic jams on the potent roads. Most of the time people have to park their vehicles at  quite a distance from their place of work.

It is a common scene outside the main markets, restaurants, shops, educational institutions, and government offices that vehicles are parked in long queues occupying most of the part of the roads making it almost impossible for other vehicles to cross the road.

The city reaches gridlock during peak hours as the spell of traffic is spread to nearby neighborhood streets, flooding residential areas with vehicles which already lack the basic facilities to accommodate the large influx of vehicles.

The areas of  Iqbal Town, Johar Town, Muslim Town, Faisal Town, Farid Court House, Regal Chowk, Mall Road, Liberty Market, Main Market, MM Alam Rd and Shalimar Link Rd etc are just a few examples that reflect the dire situation.

Cases of stolen vehicles have been reported from areas where the cars are parked at quite a distance from the visiting place. An organized parking, especially in the commercial areas of the city, causes the worst traffic jams. Every major road in the city gets clogged with parked vehicles during school, office and shopping hours. There are few parking spots with very little capacity built near offices, commercial markets and educational institutions due to which many vehicles are parked on the roads.  The top officials of the LDA and the city district government entirely ignored the basic principles of parking in the last two decades when the city was undergoing a rapid transformation of commercialization and urbanization. No plan of action was made to deal with parking problems in future. Due to this mismanagement, the private parking mafia is active in most areas of Lahore and collects a lot of money from people for parking.

No parking plazas in pipeline

Speaking to The Nation, a senior official of the Lahore Parking company Rehan Wahid said this company  was established in order to solve the existing parking problems of the city and to improve the existing parking system. Lahore parking company conducts all types of planning and feasibility studies in order to improve the traffic condition and to provide better parking facilities. “We have proposed and identified 12 important places to build parking plazas. Some of these areas include Sherawala, Mall Road and Garden Town”, he said, adding that the company is currently operating 214 parking spots across Lahore. Talking to The Nation, Deputy Director of Traffic Engineering & Planning Agency (TEPA), a subsidiary of LDA said that no parking spots are operated by LDA except four Parking Plazas in the whole of Lahore. Parking plazas operated by LDA include plaza at Liberty Chowk, Sunfort Plaza at Liberty, plaza in Allama Iqbal Town market and a plaza in Shalmi D-Chowk, he informed.

He said LDA had to withdraw its contract with Lahore Parking Company due to low revenue generation and poor management issues. Illustrating the plan of action being proposed to tackle the current parking problem in the city, the official said, as per its bylaws , the LDA has made it compulsory that there should be enough parking space in commercial buildings.  When asked how many new parking projects LDA is set to initiate in future keeping in view the  critical parking situation, the deputy director said that there were no such projects in the pipeline.