Monday, February 13, 2012

High time temple has multi-level parking facility

I TOOK my family to witness Thaipusam in Batu Caves last week. Because my youngest daughter wanted to join us, I decided to drive. In the past years, I went on my motorcycle, with my wife riding pillion. The motorcycle has been a practical mode of transport for me to get to Batu Caves which is not far from my home.

This year, for the first time, I drove to Batu Caves. Realising that the jam would be bad on Thaipusam day, I decided to go on the eve to avoid the crowd and traffic congestion. That evening, however, I realised how wrong I was.

Two kilometres from Batu Caves, along the Middle Ring Road II, a jam was building up. Seeing the number of cars slowing down to avoid vehicles indiscriminately parked by the roadside, I decided to turn into the light industrial area opposite Batu Caves. I thought I would be able to find parking space there since most factories were closed and the public parking lots empty.

I did find parking space there -- but most were booked by touts who marked their territories using traffic cones and raffia strings. Parking space must have been in high demand because I saw one "parking operator" openly advertising his fees -- RM10 for cars, and twice the amount for vans.

Having decided that parking too close to the temple was not worth the fee and refusing to pay the touts, I parked almost a kilometre away and walked to the temple. Of course, a kilometre's walk was a breeze for my wife and I since we were already walking five to six kilometres daily in the evenings.

But for someone who had trouble walking, or didn't know the area well, chances are that they would have paid the touts. Otherwise, they would risk having their vehicles scratched or dented for refusing to pay.

Have you wondered how ridiculous it is that some people who probably have never paid tax in their lives dare to claim the streets as their own and charge parking fees as they pleased?

Even the presence of Selayang Municipal Council officers and policemen did not deter the touts from doing brisk business.

The crowd gets bigger with each Thaipusam at Batu Caves. Despite the availability of public transport, some people still prefer to drive there for good reasons. Some may have come from faraway places, others may have family members with mobility problems. Because of these, they may need to park close to the temple for convenience.

Perhaps, it is time for the temple management to consider a multi-level parking facility within the temple ground or close to the area. This will not only help curb touts preying on the crowd, but also reduce indiscriminate parking along the busy MRRII which can lead to accidents.

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