Inadequate parking space, a key issue | Daily News

Inadequate parking space, a key issue

Parking is an integral part of transportation systems. Depending on the purpose of the trip, travellers need parking for short or long period parking depending on the situation or requirement. Having safe parking will ease the minds of travellers attending to their daily requirements. As such when infrastructure facilities such as roads and Expressways are designed, adequate space for parking should be provided for safe travel.

The idea of this article is to draw the attention of the public as well as decision makers about the availability of parking space for commuters – service seekers in different organisations.

As per the fuel permit QR code registration, there are over six million vehicles plying on Sri Lankan roads. Since the country’s estimated population is close to 22 million, there is some kind of vehicle for every four persons in the country. Considering the present status of the public transport system and the concerns on social status, considerable numbers try to travel in private vehicles to satisfy their requirements. But, the many service providers, both private and Government have failed to understand this reality and forgotten to pay adequate attention to the convenience of its customers or service seekers. As such, service providers should pay adequate attention about the basic requirements and convenience of its customers and service seekers in addition to the main facility of the organisation.

Parking space for customers

A Government hospital, Police Station, District Secretariat or any other Government office should reserve at least some parking space for its customers. This is critical in city centres where parking is a major issue for all the road users. It may be due to the space issue in the premises since parking was not a major issue at the time of these organisations began operations. Anyway, new developments and new constructions should consider this fact. In many economically advanced countries when they invite service seekers to their organisations, apart from the instructions provided, such as, documentary requirements, timing, directions, rules and regulations, they are informed about the possible mode of transport and availability of parking facilities for the organisation. It is very important to understand that all these features are important to manage time effectively.

Providing parking facilities for new constructions are compulsory according to the prevailing regulations related to new buildings of the country. Depending on the nature of the facility and the floor area of each facility, a minimum parking facility should be provided for the users of those buildings. Such spaces should be clearly indicated in the plans prepared seeking approval from respective organisations.

Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) is an important and compulsory component and regulation in the country for some selected highly congested towns. A subject matter expert carries out a traffic impact assessment for such new developments, modifications or renovations should indicate the parking requirements – numerically as well as in the plans. Those plans are presented in front of key officials of related organisations and grant approval only if all the conditions related to traffic are satisfied. Adequate parking space is a major component in that process.

Upon completion of the project, when the owner seeks permission for the building facility to function under a Certificate of Compliance, the responsible authorities are supposed to visit the premises and grant approval only if all the constructions made are in compliance with the stipulated plans.

While there are discussions regarding the adequacy of legal parking requirements for various building types, it is doubtful whether at least the parking space that is provided are done so after obtaining the Certificate of Compliance at the completion of the project. This is most evident near private medical channelling centres, private tuition classes, reception halls and even hotels and restaurants. Visitors or customers of such places either have to park their vehicles in the spaces available by the roadside which becomes an inconvenience to other road users creating a risk of accidents. Therefore, motorists who are compelled to park in the available space by the roadside risk being slapped with a traffic fine.

When the responsible authorities turn a blind eye to situations like these, the rich and powerful go scot-free. The burden will be passed on to the poor and less privileged citizens of the country.

Illegal and dangerous parking

While it is encouraged for the law enforcing authorities to enforce the rules for illegal parking, adequate precautions should be taken to control the situation. When the rich visit such places, they do not understand or feel the gravity of the situation as they are chauffeur driven or are given special treatment by the owners of the building they patronise. Very often, the less privileged people have to seek parking in a space of a building with parking facilities such as supermarkets in the vicinity.

If the law enforcement authorities take stern action against illegal parking knowing that it is not fair to charge the victims but take action against actual culprits, some business organisations fear that this type of action result in them losing customers and business due to the lack of parking facilities. Some private tuition classes, private medical channelling centres and reception halls do not care about the prevailing problem since it has not impacted on their businesses. Therefore, it is more important for the authorities to identify the root cause of the problem and produce the actual culprits, such as, owners of such buildings causing an inconvenience to the public, before granting approval to the owners. Legal action should be brought against them like the traffic fines against those responsible to the victims of the ill-managed system. It is very important to understand that the ultimate result is the wastage of fuel which has to be imported spending the country’s hard earned foreign currency. Further, the wastage of fuel due to traffic congestion will be shared among those who have never stepped into such buildings or a comfortable vehicle.

To combat this condition, the Government should consider about revising existing rules and regulations. To revisit new constructions periodically to confirm whether the constructions are maintained according to the approved plans. Depending on the efficiency and effectiveness of such actions may lead for the owners to reconsider the current practices. In some towns and built-up areas, construction begins on Friday night and start functioning from Monday morning while the responsible authorities are in deep sleep. Later those buildings demand official water supply and electricity connections also.

Some economically advanced countries demand a certification of parking availability before registering a vehicle even for personal usage. Since we are far behind such innovative thinking roads constructed for the benefit of majority are blocked during day and night for illegal parking.

It is worth mentioning about the contribution of Government and Private Schools in this matter. Only, a very few schools identify/ understand that a considerable number of students do not walk to school rather they travel in private vehicles or school vans. Many schools totally neglect the requirement of parking of those vehicles after they drop children for schools. Therefore, school vans are compelled to park closer to school gates blocking the entrance as well as other road users. The worst is on parents’ teachers meeting days. I have not seen any school arranging basic requirements for parents attending such meetings including parking requirements. The situation gets worse on days when schools organise variety shows and plan educational trips. Further, some schools rent out their auditoriums to be used for private functions.

Since there is no parking provided for such users, the road in the vicinity has to be used for parking adding to the traffic congestion. In addition to these lessons, we directly or indirectly teach the younger generation of the country about the negligence of society’s problems. These problems will remain unsolved or get worse the responsible authorities are silent against such wrong doers.

Without paying adequate attention to the above problems and the relevant authorities failing to take appropriate action to combat the country’s parking problem, the issuing of traffic tickets to errant road users will last for a few more generations.

Dr. (Eng) Jayalath Edirisinghe,
Faculty of Engineering,
University of Peradeniya

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