Illegal parking: Traffic police, business community blame each other

Karachi: Illegal parking lots at one of the busiest routes of Karachi, Saddar, have created problems for smooth flow of traffic but the related departments are not ready to accept responsibility for this menace. Traffic police deployed to control of traffic flow in the area and the business communities the area are blaming each other for these illegal parking lots.

Motorcycle and car lifting cells of the traffic police are tasked to clear roads of illegal parking in order to ensure smooth flow of traffic but they seem only interested in making money from this.

Four traffic sections of police in Preedy, Mithadar, Kharadar, and Artillery Maiden police stations are assigned duty to clear illegal parking from the roads and streets.

According to a traffic police official, who did not want his name to be mentioned, more than 200 bikes and 50 cars are picked up by each section of the traffic police. Beside challan for no-lifting, lifting charges for car and motorbikes are Rs 500 and Rs 200, respectively, which amount to a collection of at least Rs 65000 from each section on daily basis.

The source revealed that majority of the motorbikes and cars are let go after receiving bribes from the vehicle owners. “Majority of vehicle owners want to resolve the matter without any challan and therefore pay bribe. This bribe is then distributed among policemen and traffic police officials.”

He said that it was an organized scam as several institutions were involved in this act.

SSP South Traffic, Tanvir Alam, when contacted said that one parking lane was allowed in front of the shops but there were three to four parking lanes which were causing hindrance in smooth flow of the traffic. “We allow one lane in front of shops but these shop-owners have extended it to three lanes in order to facilitate their customers.”

He admitted that there were less alternative parking lots in the area but they were enough to accommodate the vehicles in the area.

Tanvir said that the police had taken action against people, within and outside the department, involved in illegal parking businesses and charging more fees in terms of lifting charges. “We have taken action against three traffic police officials, involved in making forged lists of vehicles being lifted. They were registering fewer bikes than being actually lifted. I took action and suspended them.”

He said that action was also taken against people involved in charging more fees for parking. “Three days back we arrested a person and registered a case against him for over-charging.”

Meanwhile, business community rejected traffic police initiative of removing illegal parking lots and said that without providing alternative facilities, parking lots cannot be removed.

Talking to PPI, General Secretary Electronic Markets Dealers Association, Rasheed Noorani, said that his association would resist any move from the police to remove these parking lots. “How people will come to this market if they had no facility for parking in the area. They want to ruin our businesses but we will foil any attempt in this regard.”

He said that a parking plaza was build at the edge of Saddar which was not sufficient to accommodate large number of vehicle. Moreover, he said that if vehicles were parked in the plaza then it would take more than an hour to reach their shops due to massive traffic jam in the area. “Earlier city government had promised to provide shuttle bus service from the parking plaza to market area but no initiative was taken.”

Noorani said that the government has refused a proposal from business community to build an underground parking lot at Jahangir Park. “We offered government to provide money for building an underground parking lot and renovation of the Jahangir Park, but they refused the proposal.”

Moreover, President of Karachi Electronics and Small Traders Association, Mohammad Rizwan, said that there were vacant plots in the nearby area and the government should assign these places for parking. “This problem cannot be resolved until alternate arrangement is made,” he said.

He accused police and other government officials for forming a nexus involved in earning money from illegal parking lots. “They are not sincere to ensure smooth flow of traffic instead they are interested in smooth flow of cash coming in their pockets,” he blamed.

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