February 20, 2023
DHAKA – The lack of designated parking spaces in and around commercial buildings, markets, and in general in Dhaka, intensifies the already aggravated traffic gridlock on the city roads. While developing any modern city anywhere in the world, city authorities always took the issue of parking spots seriously, which the Dhaka city authorities unfortunately never did. Hence, we are in a situation where a large number of our existing commercial buildings and marketplaces never bothered to allocate adequate space for parking at their establishments. On top of that, there is a huge lack of public parking facilities across this concrete jungle.
While we frequently blame vehicle owners for illegally parking on the streets, the fact is that oftentimes they have no other option. And why the authorities have done nothing to address this, despite their self-professed obsession with the “development” of Dhaka is anybody’s guess. But one thing is for certain, short-sightedness and lack of proper planning have absolutely contributed to this quandary we presently find ourselves in.
A perfect example of how the authorities have neglected this problem, which has such a huge bearing on peoples’ daily lives, is the state of the lone draft policy that is meant to address Dhaka’s parking problem. According to our report, the draft policy which was announced back in 2019, is yet to see the light of day. In November 2022, after some back and forth with the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) had formed a 16-member committee to finalise the draft. The committee, however, has not sat for a meeting on this as of yet, although according to sources at the DTCA, it is likely to soon sit with all the stakeholders.
While we desperately need a comprehensive parking policy in place at the earliest, that will do us no good in the absence of sufficient parking spots. Transport and urban development experts have repeatedly said in the past that making need-based multi-storey parking facilities in busy areas was a key solution to the haphazard parking. And different government agencies such as the Dhaka South and North City Corporation, Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority, traffic department of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority must work together to identify possible locations where such facilities could be established. Additionally, Rajuk must make sure to grant permission for new building construction only if its owner allocates enough space for parking – which should have been the case all along.
In August 2022, Mayor Atiqul Islam announced the launch of a pilot project, titled “Smart Parking”, at eight locations of Dhaka North. The project was supposed to start by September 2022, but has not yet commenced. We have seen the same story repeating over and over when it comes to projects taken up to address Dhaka’s parking problem. But the longer the implementation of such projects are delayed, the more we are digging ourselves into deeper trouble. Thus, the authorities need to launch a full-on effort to solve Dhaka’s parking problem before doing so becomes too complex and difficult.