The Dhaka city corporations and the metropolitan police have selected 42 on-street parking spots to tackle the growing traffic congestion in the capital, one of most densely populated cities in the world.
About 2,000 vehicles can be parked at a time in these spots, selected on trial basis, in Gulshan, Banani, Uttara, Mirpur, New Market, Nilkhet, Palashi, Elephant Road, Motijhee and Balurmath.
The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) started designating such spots from February.
With around 17 million residents, Dhaka currently has around 342,000 private motorised vehicles, according to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). Of them, 27,396 cars were registered last year alone.
A 2014 study by Rajuk noted that parking facilities were way too inadequate in the capital. Facilities owned by Rajuk and Dhaka city corporations could accommodate only 1,474 vehicles in the off-street parking slots, it said.
On-street parking allows parking vehicle on one side of streets for a certain period of time for a fixed charge or even for free.
“We have selected 42 points on the city streets, that are less busy than the rest, for on-street parking,” DMP Additional Commissioner (traffic) Mosleh Uddin Ahmed said on Thursday.
The decision came after several meetings between DMP, DNCC, DSCC, Rajuk, BRTA, Deputy Commissioner Office and Dhaka Transport Co-ordination Authority, he said.
“The DSCC has already leased out a few spots near Bangladesh Bank and Dilkhusha in Motijheel, Balurmath, and New Market for paid on-street parking,” he added.
“We selected the spots on experimental basis after six months of observation and planning. If the initiative succeeds, the number of such spots might be increased in future,” he said.
42 points on the city streets have been selected for on-street parking | Mehedi Hassan/Dhaka tribune
Centre for Urban Studies Chairman Prof Nazrul Islam said there was no discipline in the city's parking system.
“Rajuk failed to properly implement its plans for the city through its slack monitoring in building construction. A large number of the city's establishments have already been constructed without adequate parking space due to lack of proper planning and monitoring,” he said.
DMP’s ordinance prohibits parking on the street or public places and imposes a Tk100 fine.
Kalabagan resident Rakib Hasan appreciated the on-street parking initiative. “We faced difficulties in parking our vehicles in most places in the city before,” he said.
A private car driver at Dilkhusha in Motijheel said the initiative would help save the people from police harassment and fines.
DSCC"s Chied Town planner thinks the decision will discipline city streets| Mehedi Hassan/Dhaka tribune
In February, DSCC's Chief Town Planner Md Sirajul Islam said: “The decision to legalise on-street parking aims at curbing disorganised street parking, evident almost everywhere in the city. This would discipline the city streets.”
He said the government was also considering introducing the automated parking system (APS), which aims to maximise parking spaces while minimising land usage, much like Tokyo's paid parking system.
Sirajul said introducing APS and increasing on-street parking spots were solutions to Dhaka's worsening traffic situation.
Reasat E Noor, a civil engineer graduate from Buet who researched on capacity loss of the city roads, said Dhaka's streets cover just 9% of its total size. In developed cities across the world the percentage is 25.
“We are even failing to utilise the mere 9% roadways available, owing to multiple issues including poor maintenance and management,” he said.
“If on-street parking is legalised, the capacity loss would rise significantly. Such a move will worsen the traffic congestion drastically,” Reasat added.