A draft policy on vehicle parking in the capital seemed to promise a great respite from illegal occupation of roads and in some cases footpaths a few years ago. Though meant primarily to remove reckless indiscipline in vehicle parking, the draft policy aimed at easing vehicular movement with more space to be made available on the roads. It may be recalled that the government had earlier enacted the transport law outlining in some details the dos and don'ts regarding vehicular movement. Failure in implementing the law is believed to have necessitated framing of the parking policy. In fact, it is primarily the absence of legal parking facilities, not only in the capital but in all major cities of the country that proved to be a key deterrent to implementing the law. Surprising as it is, the transport law that, among other things, is meant to come down heavily on illegal parking of vehicles did not consider this crucial aspect as a prerequisite in order to render the law meaningful. What eventually happened was that the unworkable circumstances caused largely by the absence of legal parking areas made implementation of the law difficult, even impossible. So, the need for a parking policy gained importance.
The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) formulated the draft Parking Policy 2019 as per the direction stipulated in the DTCA Act 2012 for disciplining city commuting. The DTCA also reportedly approved a proposal to set up parking facilities at 64 spots and bus bays in the city in order to maintain traffic discipline as well as make the transport law enforceable. Shifting the city's inter-district bus terminals outside the city was another important decision taken by the DTCA.
The importance of a parking policy was emphasised in related policies like the National Land Transport Policy 2004 and the National Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy 2013 for bringing discipline to the traffic system through proper use of road spaces. The Bangladesh National Building Code and Guidelines have also directives on parking services to people through integration of all concerned engaged in operating commercial buildings, hospitals, educational institutions, shopping malls, launch terminals, rail stations, bus terminals, picnic spots etc.
Unfortunately, as of now, absence of any forward movement makes many sceptical about the authorities' earnestness to have the much needed policy in place. The draft has apparently been shelved. According to a FE report, in the draft policy, guidelines were given to different agencies and stakeholders to provide required services according to building criteria and nature of areas with the objective of stopping illegal parking, managing parking spaces, providing parking facilities, building parking infrastructure at government, corporate and private initiatives. The guidelines, it is assumed, were a cause for discontent among many stakeholders, and hence the stalemate. If it is really so, the important question remains: what the authorities are up to-- satisfying the interest of some stakeholders, or easing commuting of millions of city dwellers? The authorities should find the answer in the greater interest of public good.