Kochi’s hard-earned image as a city where efforts are on to reclaim public spaces for pedestrians has suffered a hit, with cars and other vehicles being indiscriminately parked on roads and footpaths that were recently renovated as smart corridors by Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML).
In addition, buses and other vehicles are oftentimes parked on cycle tracks that were demarcated over a year ago with green paint on smart roads. Such instances abound, including near the High Court. Such haphazard and obstructive parking, including on footpaths, has sent civic and enforcement agencies into a tizzy.
Still, the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) has been found wanting in readying a parking policy, two years since it was constituted as a first-of-its-kind authority in India having legislative backing. The police too are facing flak due to the inordinate delay in procuring modern recovery vans to tow away such vehicles. The alleged slack enforcement by the police and the Motor Vehicles Department in penalising motorists who wantonly indulge in obstructive parking too has raised eyebrows, what with residents and merchants’ associations calling for proactive enforcement measures.
A senior police official sought readying of a holistic solution to end the menace posed by obstructive parking. “Much of such illegal parking could have been done away with, had the Kochi Corporation insisted on shops and multi-rise buildings having adequate parking space. Rather, building permits were widely issued even to those who failed to adhere to norms over the past decades. Moreover, the civic body has been monetising footpath parking and even street-vendor spaces.”
In this situation, the Corporation and CSML have to provide alternative parking spaces in the city, considering the huge number of people who arrive in the city. Yet another option would be to provide commuter-friendly, point-to-point public transport, he said.
Third Eye number
Interestingly, 100 out of the 180 petty cases registered daily by the traffic police in the city hub are for obstructive parking. It has been found that this alone is not a deterrent and Kochi needs at least eight recovery vans to tow away light and heavy vehicles which violate parking norms. Such a proposal has been hanging fire for many years. In this situation, members of the public could help by sending photos or videos of parking and other rule violations over WhatsApp to the traffic police’s Third Eye number 6238-100-100. Action is generally taken in less than 10 minutes, police sources said.
Moreover, a proposal has been made to forward cases registered against traffic rule violators to the court for further action to act as a deterrent, it is learnt.