KARACHI: Pakistan’s largest car parking plaza, situated in one of the busiest commercial centers of Pakistan, Saddar Karachi, remains largely empty, while roads and streets in the vicinity clogged due to illegal vehicle parking, depicting a classic example of poor municipal management in Pakistan.
It is estimated that more than 12000 vehicles are parked daily on the roads and streets of Saddar, resulting in frequent traffic jams. The huge parking plaza was made to solve this problem, but the project failed miserably due to mismanagement and lack of political will.
The 12-storey plaza – with eight floors for parking and two each for shops and offices – was constructed at a cost of Rs 650 million on a 35,654 square feet plot some four years ago. It has ample space to park 700 vehicles and 500 motorcycles, besides accommodation for 160 shops and 118 offices. However, this huge parking plaza remains unutilised due to bureaucratic apathy, clash of interests of stakeholders and corruption culture.
At the time of opening of this project, it was announced that parking of every type of vehicle would be banned in Saddar area. A shuttle bus service would be plied between the parking plaza and Merewether Tower to facilitate the people who park their vehicles in the plaza. However, neither vehicle parking was banned in the area on sustainable basis and nor any shuttle bus run to facilitate people.
Inner sources say these decisions were not implemented as the market associations of Saddar opposed the idea of banning parking in the area as it would mean fewer customers for them. Moreover, banning illegal parking was also not in the interest of traffic police, as illegal parked vehicles are considered main source of their revenue in the area. Another factor was the presence of thousands of roadside vendors and encroachers who also daily based bribes called bhatta to corrupt government functionaries and dominant political outfits of the area.
Interestingly, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) is constructing another five-storied car parking plaza at Shahabuddin Market near the unutilized 12-storied CDGK parking plaza. The failure of CDGK parking plaza is a lesson that only provision of modern infrastructure is not sufficient to solve the civic problems. Multistoried parking plazas are useless if the administration lacks capability to stop illegal parking on streets.
Wide roads and flyovers cannot end traffic jams if the administration is not ready to remove roadside encroachments. Mere construction of more parking plazas in Saddar would not solve the problems, unless it is declared a ‘no-parking zone’ and the decision strictly and sustainabley implemented. The delayed project of pedestrianazation of Saddar should also be initiated without further loss of time, so that perpetual traffic jams in this city center could be ended for good. ppi