Most shoppers have a hard time park their cars due to lack of space during rush hours
Any shopper who has ever been to the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Market at upscale Gulshan-2 can easily recollect the concrete-made tall sculptures of surfboards on the pavement connecting one side of the market to another.
Built as part of a beautification project initiated by late DNCC mayor Annisul Huq in 2014, these structures have become a headache for the shop owners as the market needs more room for parking.
The market is popular among many upper middle class shoppers of the capital as well as foreigners from Gulshan and the Baridhara Diplomatic Zone areas. However, most shoppers have a hard time finding room to park their cars during peak hours as the structures have shrunk the parking space.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, many shop owners complained that they had been incurring loss year after year.
“Our customers are some of the most elite and important personalities in this city. They do not feel comfortable leaving their cars somewhere else and walking to the market for shopping. You won’t believe how much we are losing just for this one inconvenience,” Imran Sarkar, owner of Cure Optics, said.
“Last week, the ambassador of Libya came here with his wife, but they didn’t find a place to park their car. It was very embarrassing for us. This is how we’re losing these foreign VVIP customers. It’s awkward for them to walk around with all their protocols. An entire space is being wasted for nothing,” he added.
This “beautification project” has eaten up a large part of the parking space, while the concrete structures are now being used for sticking posters.
“Now we open the shops for the sake of keeping the business operational. In reality, we see barely one or two customers a day,” said Md Azmal Islam, a sales representative of Amin Collection.
“We have been facing losses since last year due to the Covid situation. Many businesses had to lay off employees. Then comes these sculptures, which have nothing to do with easing our problems,” he added.
Sameeha Karim, a homemaker who came to Dhali Super Shop, said that she had to park her car in an adjacent alley due to lack of parking space in front of the market.
“It’s a matter of discomfort to carry the shopping bags all the way up to the other side of the road,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
Use of parking space
Neither the DNCC nor the market committee has taken any steps to increase parking space for the shoppers while outsiders often occupy the spot.
While visiting the parking space recently, no guards were seen at the spot for over two hours. The shop owners said that they could not deploy any guard since the DNCC owned the parking space.
“Finding the owners of the vehicles is a difficult task,” said Salahuddin Ahmed, general secretary of the Gulshan DNCC Market Shop Owners’ Association.
“The available parking spaces are also mostly occupied by other people, who have come to the kitchen market, or nearby offices or shopping malls,” he added.
Before erecting the sculptures back in 2014, the government assured the shop owners of a better holistic plan, which would give the customers a quality shopping experience.
Salahuddin said: “These sculptures were built under a beautification project with the funding of the World Bank. Under the project, the authorities have improved conditions of the second floor and the roof, and increased toilet facilities. But these sculptures are creating trouble for us.”
He said that the shop owners had written to the DNCC officials and Mayor Atiqul Islam regarding the parking issue. “We have been assured that it will be resolved. But nothing has changed.”
The project cost was around Tk3.47 crore; and due to lack of funding, the project was halted half way through. DNCC Public Relation Officer Abul Bashar Mohammad Tajul Islam could not confirm the accurate cost of the project.
Salahuddin claims the DNCC officials are not very keen on dismantling the whole installation. “So the shop owners have suggested making slopes at the entrance and the exit points so that the cars can enter.
“I asked the chief executive officer just to give us permission to build the slopes ourselves, but that too has yet to be approved,” he added.
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam told Dhaka Tribune that he would visit the market next week to look into the matter himself, and find a suitable solution.
“The late mayor must have taken the project in hand with a noble cause. But every initiative may not yield expected results,” he added.