Assuring citizens that there would be no traffic jams during this Ramazan, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and traffic police had vowed to take action the mafia running illegal charged parking sites in the surroundings of markets and commercial centres across the city.
But a week after the start of the holy month, the problem of illegal charged parking sites appears to be becoming worse.
The parking mafia is still active and the people running this business have extended their network to even smaller roads and inner streets of the city.
The parking mafia also harasses motorists if they refuse to pay.
“This is totally unacceptable. No one has the right to terrorise citizens,” said a visitor to the Serena Mobile Market.
“The government high-ups should take action against this mafia.”
On June 7, Karachi administrator Laiq Ahmed had ordered the charged parking director to take strict action against those operating illegal parking sites because they disturbed the traffic flow on the roads and also affected the KMC’s legal charged parking business.
Recently, the media reported that a citizen was thrashed by a traffic cop over parking fee outside Zainab Market in Saddar.
Mazhar Khan, the Anti-Encroachment director, who has recently been given the additional charge of the Charged Parking director, told The News that the KMC had 41 charged parking sites in three districts of Karachi - Central, East and South.
Apart from these 41 venues, the rest were illegal and most complaints are coming from the South district – the business hub of the city.
“After the directives of the Karachi administrator, we conducted an operation in Clifton and arrested two men, Ali Khan and Jaffar Syed, who were illegally charging parking fee in a park near the Hyper Star shopping mall,” said Khan.
He added that an FIR had been registered against them at the Boat Basin police station. He further said the anti-encroachment department had seized fake parking fee slips.
Khan said the anti-encroachment department had started a drive against illegal charged parking and encroachments.
“We will conduct more operations across the city with the help of police and arrest those involved in this activity. We will ensure that there are no illegal charged parking sites in the city.”
Talking about the KMC’s charged parking sites, Khan said of the 41, 11 sites were in the South district and the rest in the East and Central districts.
“Our parking areas are only approved after a survey of the location whether it can be turned into a parking area or not,” he added.
Khan warned the parking mafia to stop their activities otherwise the KMC would arrest them and have FIRs registered against them.
DIG Traffic Karachi Dr Amir Shaikh, while presiding over a meeting on June 5, said a campaign against parking mafia had been launched to ensure smooth traffic flow.
SSP Tahi Noorani, the Assistant DIG Traffic Karachi, told The News that on the directives the Karachi traffic police chief, they had arrested 25 people for running illegal charged parking sites and booked them.
“It was decided that the names of people involved in the illegal charged parking business would be released to the media and strict action will be taken against them in accordance with the law. We will do it indiscriminately no matter which government department, union and association they belong to,” he added.
Zahid Farooq, the joint director of the Urban Resource Centre, a non-profit organisation highlighting the problems of the city through forums, research and documentation, said the people running illegal charged parking sites were being backed by political parties and police.
Commenting on the legitimate charges for parking, Farooq said the KMC charged parking department lacked a check and balance mechanism.
He said the parking mafia charged between Rs30 and Rs50 rupees depending on the area of the site.
The charges at a legal parking site were Rs5 for a motorcycle and Rs20 for a four-wheeler.
Farooq said most parks and empty plots in the surroundings of commercial streets and shopping malls were being used as illegal parking sites.
He pointed out the fee for parking at the Fateh Baagh near Ziauddin hospital was Rs50 and motorists were not given any fee-slip.
Talking about the best possible practices for legal charged parking, Farooq said the first and most important condition was that it should not disturb the traffic flow. Secondly, the KMC should manage all charged parking sites itself instead of handing them over to private contractors and deploy its own employees wearing uniforms so that people could recognise them. Thirdly, the KMC should officially declare the tariff of parking fee on every site with the help of signboards and launch an awareness campaign about it through the print and electronic media.