Instead of freeing the public roads from illegal occupancy, Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) has embarked on leasing out roads of a residential area for car parking.
The DCC has recently leased out part of a number of internal roads in Gulshan residential area for commercial parking to a company in exchange for a yearly lease money of Tk 12 lakh.
“Occupying public space in this manner is an infringement on the pedestrians' rights,” said Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury, who headed a 31-member advisory committee on Dhaka's Strategic Transport Plan (STP). “It is not appropriate at all,” he added.
They cannot lease out public roads in this way and should not have taken such action to convert a public space into a designated parking area for commercial uses, he said.
DCC Chief Town Planner Sirajul Islam said they did it to resolve traffic problems.
“We have taken this measure to solve traffic problems as most of the Rajuk-approved buildings used as commercially in the area do not have required car parking provisions,” he said, “We have chosen wider roads for parking in single file.”
He further said, “Our aim is to discourage chaotic car parking occupying the roads.”
A joint body comprising DCC, Rajuk and Dhaka Metropolitan Police representatives made the decision. The system came into effect on November 2.
The principal responsibility of the lessee is to keep the main avenue and intersections free of illegal parking with its own manpower, he said.
CM Shafi Sami, a former adviser to the caretaker government and now president of Gulshan Society, said it is not a solution to traffic problems.
“I think it is an infringement on the civic rights,” he said. “It will not serve the purpose of easing traffic congestion, rather it will aggravate the situation.”
According to Sami, the action will obstruct the pedestrians from walking. The authorities could easily find some open spaces and go for multi-storeyed parking facility for resolving traffic problems instead of occupying public roads, he said.
How do they officially occupy part of the road width for car parking when illegal occupants elbow the pedestrians from the sidewalks, he said.
Mohsin Sarker, an executive at a private company, said general people were not even notified of the DCC move. “I was suddenly made to pay for parking my car at the spots like in front of Pink City and Gulshan Tower,” he said.
The toll collectors exact Tk 10 per hour from the drivers and car owners.
“The DCC has leased out roads for car parking when Gulshan residential area is already unsuitable for walking at all,” Sarker said.
Riaz Ur Rahman, convenor of Gulshan Society zone-3, said, “Those who do not like to pay for parking their cars will now go further interior and plague the residential area with illegal parking and congestion.”
The DCC chief town planner said the ESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) carried out a survey in 2002 and found that Motijheel and Dilkusha commercial areas needed a total of 3,500 car-parking provisions.
The DCC introduced car parking beside the wide roads in the area with parking fee but the system could not continue for long as Sadharan Bima Corporation and communications ministry wrote for its cancellation. It was cancel in December 2006.
The provision in Shantinagar too could not continue as the traffic police department demanded for cancellation in 2007.
The system at the road between the GPO and Baitul Mukarram market had to stop with the DCC accommodating a Holiday Market for hawkers at the site.
Islam said it is a worldwide practice to make provisions for car parking by the roadside.
He said DCC carried a survey in Gulshan last year and they sat with the Gulshan Society and Dhaka Metropolitan Police in this regard.
President of the society said he was not aware of the society's consent to it.
Illegal car parking on the sidewalks and main thoroughfare chokes entire Gulshan residential neighbourhood every day making the residents' life miserable.
Illegally parked vehicles, construction materials and vendors occupy not only the main thoroughfare and pedestrian passage but also internal roads.
According to traffic experts, one of the main reasons behind perennial traffic congestion in the city is car parking occupying the main thoroughfares as it reduces road width.
Gulshan residents are already very resentful at the insufferable congestion in the main thoroughfare and internal roads invaded by big commercial houses, shopping malls, superstores, banks, convention halls, hotel, clubs and schools.
Footpaths and even part of the main road of Gulshan Avenue in front of shopping centres and other private business establishments remain occupied with illegal parking almost round the clock.