THE capital city lacks a comprehensive parking policy as everything related to resolving congestion is still in initial stages. In the absence of a parking system, especially in office hours, privately owned cars resort to illegal parking. Roads under constructed flyovers in busy crossings are used as parking lot or to dump garbage, obstructing traffic. City bus operators regularly park their vehicles in busy areas as there is no designated spot for vehicle parking, The plan to turn the inter-district bus terminals into city bus terminals as per the Revised Strategic Transport Plan remains unimplemented. The illegal parking of pickup vans has earlier appropriated a park at Tanti Bazar in Old Town. Rajuk has been ineffective in ensuring that buildings are constructed with adequate parking space. City people, meanwhile, continue to suffer for traffic congestion and lose productive hours. It is, therefore, shocking that the authorities have left the issue unresolved for more than a year now.
The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority in April 2018 drafted the Parking Policy 2018 to develop, update and coordinate the implementation of city traffic management and collection of non-tax revenue from parking charges. The draft was sent to the road transport and bridges ministry where it has been stuck for a review. Urban planners and transport sector researchers, meanwhile, asked the government to review its plan to address parking problems. Accident Research Institute experts urged the government to move away from privately-owned car-centric solutions. Cars cover less than 10 per cent of the daily trips in the city but occupy 70 per cent of road spaces. They, therefore, suggested a ‘drop zone policy’ based on loading and unloading of motorised, non-motorised and paratransit vehicles. A market-based approach has also been floated in which parking fees would be decided considering road construction and other relevant costs to eventually discourage people from using cars. The city authorities also need to ensure designated bus depot and relocated inter-district bus terminals outside the capital.
In view of the road transport sector also causing air and noise pollution, it is welcome that the authorities have had plans to make the city safe for walking and bicycling. In doing so, it must abandon its inclination for a policy that encourages more cars on the road and allow bus operators to create chaos. A multimodal approach with a focus on railway and river vessels for Dhaka and its adjacent areas and provision for bicycle lane could unburden the city of its parking problem.
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