A phenomenon noted by everyone with the rise in the number of vehicles on the roads is the mushrooming of garages in every nook and corner in the Colombo suburbs. Almost 75 percent of these are tiny, shady spaces and probably without even proper licences.
With the latter came another occurrence - the parking of thousands of garage vehicles on pavements and also on the roads, including main roads and by roads, causing a major nuisance to motorists and creating traffic snarls. Other than cars and jeeps, the parked garage vehicles sometimes include even buses and trucks.
Besides disturbing the smooth flow of traffic, they also put the lives of pedestrians in jeopardy. When garage vehicles are parked on the pavement, pedestrians have no choice but to get on to the road. If the vehicles are parked on the corner lane of the road, pedestrians are compelled to walk on the middle lane amidst traffic.
The other group of culprits of this nuisance includes customers of cafeterias. Often eateries are seen allowing their customers to park vehicles on the pavement, and also on the road. Although there are by-laws regarding parking of vehicles, hardly anyone seems to take note of it. Such a practice by a restaurant in Colombo, near the St. Bridget’s roundabout, causes traffic jams daily throughout the day. However, police and local authorities have turned a blind eye to that for reasons best known to them.
The lack of space for parking is never an excuse to flout laws and become a nuisance to others. One way of addressing this is to take local bodies to task. These councils only need to get the police to patrol the main roads, by roads, and even lanes, to check nuisance parking at least for a week. If a fine is imposed on the offenders, and police implement this rule to the last letter, the habit of parking on pavements and roads will come to an end.
The other is checking the legality of the garages in suburbs. It’s likely that a large number of them do not have licences. Even those who do, ideally should not have got their permits if they did not have adequate space to park at least four or five vehicles.
The local bodies should have checked the availability of space before issuing permits. The same should be applied to restaurants as well.
There should be at least two parking slots for eateries where sit-down meals are available. It’s perhaps too late to correct the mistakes that the authorities have already made. However, that would not in any way mitigate the gravity of the issue – traffic chaos created by them in suburban Colombo and even some areas in Colombo city.
Although today we boast of being a second world nation, the impunity with which the traffic laws are flouted surely calls for greater attention by the government. The radar of the law, it seems, is either dim or dying when it comes to parking.
The fact that there’s no consolidated plan either by the municipal councils or the police calls for the attention of a bigger authority to sort out this mess. Perhaps it’s time the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development took the matter into its hands, and put an end to this nuisance.