Till people have greater civic sense, parking plazas will be of little use
"I don’t have the time. I’ll be in and out in less than five minutes. Why should I park my car in the building when it’ll take me so much longer?" says Ahmed, a middle aged man, on the road in Liberty Market.
The marketplace is host to many busy shoppers like Ahmed and, during the peak hours, almost all at Liberty are filled with customers. Along with these busy shoppers comes a tremendous amount of cars that flood the open streets of the market. The express purpose of the government to build services like parking lots is to facilitate people.
Liberty Market is home to five parking lots yet there are numerous people who still choose to park their cars right in front of the shop where they intend to go. "We fine around 20-25 cars a day for wrong parking and toe nearly 20 cars a day when the parked cars block the traffic," says Zeeshan, a traffic warden at the Liberty roundabout.
The warden says that most people indulging in this practice have "bogus reasons" for doing so: "They go in with the intention of five minutes and don’t come out until an hour. When fined, they make up stories and tell us they had an emergency etc."
But should we really blame Ahmed when given a chance most of us would do precisely the same thing.
Another happy shopper Akbar chooses to park not on the road but in the well-built Park & Ride Plaza, said to have a capacity for 305 cars and a Rs20/hr rate. He says, "I feel my car is safe here; I don’t have to worry about my car and I can enjoy my shopping."
His reason may, at the outset, seem to be very distinct from Ahmed’s, it is essentially the same which boils down to taking the short cut to convenience. And Akbar, like Ahmed, may do very much the same if put in a similar situation.
As a matter of fact, we have grown up in a dog-eat-dog world, a fact best manifested on the road where the unaccommodating traffic and the drivers of the vehicles won’t stop for anyone.
The government can continue to build park plazas like the one at Liberty and it is doing so in Moon Market, Allama Iqbal Town also. Their real job, however, is not just to build the plazas or create spaces for parking but also to make people realise how in broader terms it helps them by ensuring a more fluid traffic flow. So that the next time an Ahmed or an Akbar park at a place they don’t just think about themselves but also the repercussions that irresponsible parking can have on everyone else on the road. Also, they would understand that in exchange for their own convenience they have caused hassle to the others.
The civic virtue that this thought translates to, allows people to not think of everyone else on the road as antagonists who will do whatever they can to get their way, but as regular people who might get stuck in a traffic jam because of one person’s ignorance.