Need To Improve Parking Facilities

THE recent decision of the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) requiring developers to increase parking bays when they develop low and medium-cost apartnents is laudable and most timely.

However, this should not only be confined to the development of apartments and condominiums but should also be extended to all commercial buildings in Petaling Jaya. The vehicular traffic in many commercial areas in Petaling Jaya - for example, Damansara Utama, SS2 Town Centre, and Section 14 Town Centre - is becoming chaotic.

This is the result of insufficient parking spaces in those areas. The situation is made worse by the ineffective traffic enforcement caried out by the council. Because of limited parking bays, many motorists have taken advantage of the lax oarking enforcement to illegally park their vehicles indiscriminately.

During peak hours from 9.30am to 6pm) it is common to see motorists double park along roads or park in nearby residential areas. To some motorists it may be a Hobson's choice, but to many it is their selfish (and kiasu) mentality that drives them to park their vehicles indiscriminately. They have no due regard for the convenience of other motorists. Neither have they any respect for traffic rules.

With the rapid expansion of business activities in urban commercial areas in Petaling Jaya, it is evident that existing planning requirements for road systems and car-parking facilities are outdated. They require drastic revisions to cater for the future growth of vehicular traffic.

Therefore, the council should draw up new guidelines for traffic and parking systems in Petaling Jaya. Central and strategically located multi-storey car parks should also be built as a prerequisite for any commercial development to proceed. As for existing commercial areas, the council should turn suitable open spaces into multi-storey car parks.

In this respects, approval should not be given to developers to convert these open spaces into multi-storey shopping and office complexes. As a temporary measure, suitable stretches of roads in redential areas, which are adjacent to commercial areas, should be allowed for car parking.

Another important action is to reduce haphazard parking, and this action should be strictly enforced by the council. The traffic enforcernent being carried out by the council is ineffective. It appears that the council is not too concerned about the current chaotic parking situation, judging from the action (or the lack of it) taken by the council.

One often sees uniformed enforcement officers from the council busily issuing surnmonses for cars that do not display appropriate parking coupons and for cars that are "illegally" parked in residential areas. But the enforcement officers ignore cars that double park or park indiscriminately in unauthorised areas - thus spawning traffic congestion and causing inconveniences to pedestrians and other motorists.

And the public gets the impression that the council is condoning and encouraging double parking in commercial areas. Once I asked an enforcement officer why he did not summon motorists who double parked, he angrily told me off. He said I could telephone the council if I was not happy about it.

If nothing concrete is done soon, the nightmare of traffic congestion in Petaling Jaya will worsen and the situation will become totally unmanageable one day. 2008