Addressing Dhaka’s parking chaos: Lone draft policy still in limbo
Scattered parking of vehicles in the capital continue to be a menace for commuters and hinder their movement on roads.
The lack of designated parking spaces for commercial buildings, markets, and city buses has led to vehicles being parked on the roads, causing severe gridlocks and huge loss of productivity.
However, there is no clear parking policy in place as of yet to address the issue. An initiative to prepare a policy by Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) is still in the works.
According to DTCA sources, the draft policy was sent to the road, transport, and bridges ministry in June 2020. In December 2021, the ministry held a meeting on the draft policy and sent it back to DTCA to incorporate some issues.
In August 2022, Dhaka North City Corporation's Mayor Md Atiqul Islam, announced the launch of a pilot project, titled "Smart Parking", at eight locations. The project was supposed to start by September 2022 in Gulshan. A mobile application was also developed in this regard. However, to date, the project is yet to commence.
Later in November 2022, DTCA formed a 16-member committee to finalise the draft. The committee could not sit for a meeting on this as of yet.
Sources at DTCA said the committee is likely to sit with all the stakeholders any day next week.
According to the draft policy, the local authorities -- with approval from the DTCA -- will determine parking demand, identify locations, and set fees.
Local roads can be used for parking with a time-bound system, and multi-level parking lots may be considered for densely-populated areas. A committee will make decisions on on-street parking. The local administration will maintain parking facilities and set fees based on various factors.
Fees will be higher for on-street parking, and fines will be used for developing the parking system. The system will be implemented by the local administration and police with coordination and approval from the DTCA, the draft policy read.
Prof Md Shamsul Hoque, a transport expert from the civil engineering department of Buet, said while constructing a building, it is crucial to designate parking areas for all types of vehicles, not just cars.
Prof Hoque highlighted that drivers in the country tend to avoid parking in the basement of a building as it is often dark and uninviting.
To address this problem, he suggested that the city's development authority, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (Rajuk), should only grant permission for new building construction if the owners agree to provide free parking spaces in front of the building, apart from its basement parking.
Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, Iqbal Habib, recommended strict actions, such as conducting mobile court drives, stopping people from parking their vehicles beyond capacity, could be a solution to the existing problem.
"A comprehensive policy that addresses the parking crisis in its entirety is crucial for a permanent remedy to the crisis," he added.
DTCA Executive Director Shabiha Pervin, said, "We've formed a 16-member committee making Muhtasim Billah the additional executive director (Policies & Planning), DTCA to finalise the draft."
The correspondents could not contact Muhtasim as he is currently on a one-month leave for training purposes. He could not be reached over the phone despite repeated attempts.
In addition, the two city corporations chose 68 different places for on-street parking in Dhaka city. However, there is no progress on that end as well.
In August 2022, Dhaka North City Corporation's Mayor Md Atiqul Islam, announced the launch of a pilot project, titled "Smart Parking", at eight locations.
The project was supposed to start by September 2022 in Gulshan. A mobile application was also developed in this regard. However, to date, the project is yet to commence.
During recent visits to these locations, the correspondents found that signboards were hung in all the dedicated places. However, the designated parking areas marked in yellow were becoming indistinct. Moreover, there was indiscriminate parking in all these locations.
"The implementation of the pilot project was delayed due to some technical difficulties with the app. However, the issues have been resolved and we are ready to launch the project," said Nayeem Raihan Khan, executive engineer of the DNCC Traffic Engineering Circle.
He said the project will be officially launched by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan once the schedule is confirmed.