Long lines of vehicles, particularly motorcycles, wrongly parked on both sides of a road, allowing no room for the moving traffic and also creating hindrances for the pedestrians, are a common sight in the city. Though, the City Traffic Police now efficiently lifts and challans the wrongly parked vehicles, and there is an increasing number of parking ramps and plazas to be found in Lahore, the problem remains.
Who is to blame for the situation — the common motorist? The poor planning by the civic agencies concerned? The banks that continue to lease more and more cars? The Lahore Parking Company (LePark) which is more interested in accumulating money by authorising parking where it isn’t due?
Interestingly, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) pursues a strict policy with regard to the parking lots already. For instance, it does not approve a commercial building plan unless it has space for a parking lot. But the commercial and government buildings that were built in olden times don’t have the facility. As a result, the roads leading to these buildings see unending lines of parked bikes and cars. Even the LDA Complex, on 10 Court Street, does not have a parking area; it only has a basement where the employees of the Session Courts leave their vehicles.
And to think that 10 Court Street is home to the offices of Provincial Election Commissioner, Evacuee Trust Board, and Sessions Courts. But these government buildings are without parking lots for the visitors who are left with no option but to park somewhere outside. Traffic congestion is a regular feature here.
Similarly, long lines of bikes and cars can be seen outside the sessions courts, the lower courts, and the high court. There is no parking system inside these buildings. Nadra’s offices on Egerton Road, GT Road, and Swami Nagar have no parking lots due to which the CNIC seekers face difficulties.
The situation on the Circular Road is no better. Dozens of cars are parked along the road which obviously narrows the otherwise reasonably wide road, and causes the traffic to slow down and also snarl up in peak hours. Neither the LDA nor any other concerned authority asks the traders of Moti Bazaar to remove their vehicles from the road. In fact, LePark ‘authorises’ them to park here for a ‘fee.’
Similarly, Empress Road, close to where the kiosks of second-hand items are set up, is perhaps the worst. Again, LePark recognises it only insofar as to collect a parking fee. No one is concerned about the traffic jams this leads to on a daily basis.
As Muhammad Khan, a trader on Empress Road, tells TNS, “LePark’s purpose is just to mint money; it charges a parking fee for using road the space. It’s not bothered about the traffic problem.”
On the other hand, a traffic warden standing on Davis Road says that unregulated parking often causes accidents. “This road has many big media offices but do they bother to arrange parking for their own employees?”
Rehan Waheed, GM Operations, LePark, says, “With the increase in the city’s population, the room for parking lots has further shrunk.”
He also speaks of the company as having introduced “Vertical Rotary Parking System” at four different places in the city — at Mayo Hospital, in Ichra, Shah Jamal, and within the premises of the Lahore High Court.
“We are making efforts to facilitate people with this state-of-the-art parking system that not only makes up for space shortage but also checks car thefts. Those using this [system] are issued special cards which ensure safety of their vehicles.”
Much like a multi-storey parking garage, the Vertical Parking System “provides parking for cars on multiple levels stacked vertically.” It lifts/transports the vehicles to and from the parking spaces mechanically, without the use of the driver.
According to Waheed, the system can “accommodate 12 cars at a time by using the space of only two cars.”
Presently, the situation is such that the common people feel shy in using it. Waheed insists that “once the public gets used to it, they will know its benefits.”
He gives the example of Ichhra where the people were initially apprehensive about using it, but now they are benefitting from it and demanding more such parking facilities.
He also announces a plan to build parking plazas on Circular Road, Jail Road, in Neela Gumbad, Ichhra, and Shah Alam Market to help the situation in the city.