Parking policy shelved, Dhaka's transport disarray deepens

MUNIMA SULTANA | Thursday, 7 July 2022

A parking policy prepared for Dhaka four years back seems shelved while transport disarray in the capital creates traffic impasse, say sources and blame vested interest for the drawback.

They say Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) formulated the draft Parking Policy 2019 as per directions stipulated in the DTCA Act 2012 for disciplining city commuting.

But the draft has apparently been left on the backburner since then for reluctance on part of all concerned, they add.

In absence of a law regulating the placement of umpteen vehicles in the metropolis, the megacity appears to be taken over by transporters of lot many sorts with illegal and indiscriminate parking-unlike in any other capital city, be it the capital of smaller neighbours like Bhutan or Nepal.

On the other hand, the parking spaces in buildings or other places have been "grabbed by illegal occupants" with impunity.

Furthermore, many infrastructures have been built without keeping adequate space for parking of vehicles as per the building nature of activities.

The importance of parking policy was stated in related policies like the National Land Transport Policy 2004 and the National Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy 2013 for bringing discipline in the traffic system through proper use of entire spaces of streets.

Bangladesh National Building Code and Guidelines have also directives on parking services to people through integration with all concerned as they are engaged in operating commercial buildings, hospitals, educational institutions, shopping malls, launch terminals, rail stations, bus terminals, picnic spots etc.

Rather, critics who belong to transport users said, without giving all these parking facilities, fines have been imposed on the vehicles under the Road Transport Act 2018. Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and Dhaka's both the City Corporations often conduct mobile court and fine vehicles for illegal parking.

An official preferring not to be named says parking nowadays is a business for many quarters, including a section of law-enforcers, which is the main reason for them to give less importance to the draft parking policy.

He also cites as an example authorities like Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakhya and other government agencies including Public Works Department who do not take traffic-circulation certificates from the DTCA according to the Act, The certification is given by assessing the building's need for parking.

Transport expert Prof Mohammad Shamsul Hoque strongly feels that city needs the parking policy to control car use and reduce its number alongside making the streets operational for proper traffic management.

But, he says, naturally less importance on the policy is given as parking spaces in most of the commercial buildings owned by affluent people have been converted to business purposes in absence of strong monitoring.

Officials say since the draft was prepared in 2019, it has been posted on the DTCA website for official comments. To date, the authority has not received any comment on it, they add.

Not only this, it took long to get comments from various related agencies on the draft parking policy after requesting them through letters, which they regret.

But recently some comments were received from authorities concerned, including the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. "The draft soon will be finalised after incorporating those comments into it and holding an inter-ministerial meeting," said another official engaged in making the draft.

In the draft policy, guidelines have been given to different agencies and stakeholders to provide the services according to building criteria and nature of areas with the objectives to stop illegal parking, manage parking spaces, provide parking facilities, build parking infrastructures under government, corporate and private initiatives aiming to discourage the use of private or small-seating transports in the crowded city.

As tolls will be imposed in various parking spaces, transparency in the collection and management of parking places, including guidelines for toll fixation, are also proposed in the policy through introducing modern technology.

Dr Shamsul Hoque, a professor of Civil Engineering Department of BUET, further says the parking nature in Dhaka city is quite different from that of different developing countries due to the use of different modes of vehicles.

[email protected]