Illegal parking on rise, Kochi chokes

Two-wheelers and autorickshaws parked on the roadside at Menaka Junction in the city
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The pandemic has resulted in city flooded with private vehicles as public transportation is considered risky.Multi-level parking facility is delayed inordinately

Two-wheelers and autorickshaws parked on the roadside at Menaka Junction in the city
Two-wheelers and autorickshaws parked on the roadside at Menaka Junction in the city

KOCHI: During the lockdown, Kochi saw what an almost vehicle-free city would look like. Besides cleaner air, the city witnessed fewer pedestrian fatalities and traffic violations. It also reminded the public about how much space automobiles occupy. Since the lockdown was lifted, the city has been flooded with private vehicles, with a sudden spike in two-wheelers and smaller cars, as public transportation is considered risky.

The increase has reiterated the fact that Kochi is running out of spaces to park, leading to illegal and obstructive parking in several areas in the city and roadsides, resulting in more traffic chaos.Rise in obstructive parking on narrow roads, footpaths and no parking zones in June prompted the police to attach wheel locks to the vehicles of grave offenders. According to T B Vijayan, assistant commissioner of City Traffic Police (West), this drove home the message and comparatively reduced violations. “Of course, the days leading to Onam saw traffic blocks and illegal parking but the same has lessened. Attaching wheel locks has made several motorists fall in line,” he said.

Price-sensitive Kochiites
Menaka Junction on Thursday saw an escalated level of illegal parking, thereby congesting the area. Motor Vehicle Inspector Thampi K R attributes this to the motorists’ refusal to use pay-and-park spaces. “Parking violation laws need to be more stringent. The law has limitations when it comes to penalising offenders. The Marine Drive region has three parking slots — that of Marine Drive, another run by a private player and another one near the guesthouse. “However, people are rather price-sensitive and prefers to park haphazardly, with no concern about the consequences. Most pay-and-park places forbid two-wheelers, which have increased over the past two months. As a result, they park on footpaths and no-parking zones,” said Thampi.

He added that parking areas are to be allotted by the local body such as the corporation. “Local bodies must find adequate spaces for vehicles. However, it is a fact that Kochi does not have sufficient places to park. Multi-level parking facilities might be able to solve the problem temporarily. But parking woes need to be addressed in a large-scale manner.

The solution
According to D Dhanuraj, chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research, such facilities do not resolve parking hassles. “Streamlining parking is a challenging process. Kochi doesn’t have parking spaces for everyone’s requirements. Multi-level parking facilities can accomodate a maximum of 50 to 70 cars. Only those near the facility will utilise the space. Studies show that such facilities fail in ending parking woes,” he said.

Dhanuraj pointed out that public transportation is the sole mechanism to alleviate troubles. “If 20 per cent of Kochi Metro’s operational cost is given as subsidy to our bus owners, they can ply more buses. When the number of buses increases during this time, they can practise adequate social distancing. This will result in trusting public transit even during such circumstances. We shouldn’t support a policy that encourages more private vehicles on the road,” he added.

Multi-level parking facility

To alleviate parking woes, the Kochi Corporation had decided to build a multi-level parking facility at Kacheripady which was included in the Cochin Smart Mission Ltd (CSML). “The National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited is working on the same. The feasibility study which was conducted in January was rectified and is currently in the tendering stage,” said the CSML spokesperson.

60 cars at a time
The multi-level parking project envisages maximum utilisation of ground space to cater to parking demand and can accommodate about 60 cars at a time.

72 acres 72 cents of land 
Cochin Smart Mission Limited has identified 72 acres of land owned by the corporation for the purpose at Kacheripady. The project was initially mooted by the corporation but later handed over to CSML.

corp initiative 
The corporation has also identified land at Market Road to set up a parking facility.
Plans such as skywalks are also under consideration.

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