The ‘useless’ Liberty Parking Plaza that cost us millions

LAHORE - The policy-makers have finally conceded on Tuesday that the expensive Liberty Parking Plaza is an ‘unsuccessful’ project, Pakistan Today has learned.
The parking plaza which opened to the general public two years ago was a part of part of the Lahore Development Authority’s (LDA) Urban Planning Vision 2015 initiative and the first of its kind nine-storey parking facility, opened to the public on November 30, 2010. The authorities concerned categorically said all sorts of vehicular parking at roadsides and at the side streets in the area would be banned, and the region would be earmarked only to be used by pedestrians.

The then acting TEPA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed had told reporters that the construction of plaza was a part of the LDA’s mega plan to create a Central Business District (CBD) in the city, which would comprise Jail Road, Main Boulevard Gulberg, MM Alam Road, part of Hali Road and the Shahrah-e-Noor Jehan. He said that the project would also help create investment, business and employment opportunities.
The parking plaza was opened up in the face of sheer criticism from traders which maintained that it would affect their businesses being far away from the main liberty market. Others near the plaza feared a decline in the number of customers because the customers would not prefer to park and walk over to the shops.The park and ride plaza was constructed at a cost of Rs 677.47 million with 91 shops and parking facilities for 350 vehicles. However, after two years since it opened up, the government has finally succumbed to allowing parking on the roads adjacent to it.
“We told the officials even when the project was an idea that it is not going to be a success, rather will be nuisance for the customers and shopkeepers alike. We still appreciate the fact that the government has taken a step two years later, but a lot of public funds have gone wasted,” a shopkeeper near Park and Ride plaza said, on the condition of anonymity.

Another senior official privy to the construction of the plaza revealed that the chief minister took personal interest in the construction of the plaza as various high profile meetings were held on it. There were many voices of concern even in the administration, but the project was completed anyway.

TEPA Chief Engineer Akhtar Saeed told Pakistan Today that the policy shift has come from the government, “TEPA was only tasked with construction and operational work. The enforcement is done by the traffic wardens,” he added.

Lahore CTO Capt (r) Sohail said the DCO formally allowed that area to be used as a parking space. DCO Noorulamin Mengal and the DO (public facilities) however were busy in a gathering and not available for comments.