Monday, May 7, 2012

No free ride for parking-lot hogs

THE rampant hogging of parking bays in space-challenged commercial areas continues to plague local councils, especially those with booming commercial districts under their jurisdiction. Whether it is in Wangsa Maju, Kelana Jaya, Pandan Jaya, Puchong or Klang, the culprits are usually business owners who claim the parking space in front of their premises for their own.

Understandably, some businesses such as motor workshops and car accessories retailers need to keep the space in front of their shops free for customers's vehicles in for service.

Supermarkets, too, sometimes reserve space for suppliers to unload goods.

However, when the proprietors peremptorily cordon off these parking bays without the respective council's consent and without paying rent, they are not only depriving the public of parking facilities, they are also robbing the local authorities of revenue.

Some seal off parking bays with makeshift no-parking signs, cones and chains. The braver ones even paint over the existing parking bays to claim them as private property.

Perhaps, the biggest abusers of public parking space are the operators of eateries. While business is good, the cost of a proper extension or renting bigger premises would eat into the profits; thus these clever businessmen set up more tables and chairs on the five-foot ways and the adjacent parking lots.

Parking space hogs are not a new breed. These spectres have made their rounds in the newsrooms, and risen their heads at many council meetings. How they have eluded capture is anyone's guess.

By law, placing any form of obstruction on a designated public parking lot is illegal. Unless you have rented the space from the local authority, you cannot simply make it your own.

Those who occupy parking space illegally can be slapped with a fine -- but only if the local authorities choose to act.

Most local authorities are relaxed about it -- until the issue is highlighted by the media. Otherwise, those who hog parking space continue to do so blatantly, causing congestion and giving errant motorists the excuse to double park.

Local councils take into consideration population density before they approve the development orders of projects, Can they not consider vehicular traffic density before approving the licences of businesses that are likely to hog parking space?

Visit any new business district and chances are, you will see that the motor workshops, car accessories dealers, vehicle exhaust installers and tinting shops have zoomed in there as quickly as the eateries, there.

Before you know it, the parking bays in front of these business premises have become their private property that they reserve for their clients.

At the very least, those hogging parking space should be made to pay rent. This way, even if the public is deprived of parking space, the local authority is not losing parking revenue.

After all, the facilities need to be maintained, and maintenance needs money. Surely the ratepayer need not pay for the upkeep of facilities that he may not use.

Local authorities, which allow such blatant disregard for the law to continue by not acting against the culprits, are losing the ratepayers' goodwill, and worse, the public's faith in their integrity.

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