A innovative idea for’smart digital parking’ was proposed by Kathmandu Metropolitan City in May 2019 on New Road, which has since been implemented. Everyone applauded the idea because traffic congestion is a persistent problem in downtown Kathmandu, and the new method allowed people to book a parking place from the comfort of their own homes using their smartphones.
However, two years later, residents, business owners, and regular tourists all agree that the New Road parking lots are not only inefficient, but also a nuisance.
“The parking system is completely disorganized, and this has had a significant negative impact on my business.” People even park on the sidewalk, obstructing my shop’s entrance,” said Rajesh Deshar, owner of Kathmandu Bakery and Burger Shop on New Road, who is 40 years old.
Because of the large number of vehicles, particularly motorcycles, parked directly in front of the shop, Deshar said, “I can’t even enter or exit my shop on some days.” “Vehicles, particularly motorcycles, are parked directly in front of the shop,” he added. He asserted that this is a problem that affects all companies in the New Road neighborhood.
Two years ago, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, in collaboration with a private firm named Wheels Truly Yours, launched the’smart parking’ system as part of a public-private partnership model, with the goal of’solving the parking problem’ in the area, according to the city.
For the first several years, parking was only permitted on one side of the road, and the parking spaces were marked with yellow paint to ensure that there was enough space between vehicles. Motorbikes, on the other hand, are now parked on both sides of the road, causing massive traffic congestion, and the vehicles are placed closely together, with two motorcycles being pushed into spaces that were originally designated for one motorcycle.
People could book parking places for 700 two-wheelers and more than 200 four-wheelers at a time through the ‘Park KTM’ app on their Android phones, but the app is no longer functional.
“Since the app isn’t working anymore, you can’t book space through your smartphone,” claimed an anonymous Wheels Truly employee who preferred to remain anonymous. “I’m not sure what’s going on with the app right now.”
The sides of all major roadways in downtown Kathmandu have been encroached upon in the name of smart parking in recent years. They claim to charge Rs25 per hour and Rs15 per half-hour for motorbikes, and Rs60 per hour for four-wheelers, but the costs fluctuate depending on the day of the week.
According to Dipendra Adhikari, 47, who is a service user, “I was quite happy when they introduced digital parking in 2019, but it does not work anymore.”
“I had parked my bike in New Road for just more than an hour, and they charged me Rs40 for it. He expressed his dissatisfaction by saying, “That’s too pricey.” “Rs25 is charged if you park here for more than 20 minutes.”
The LED screens that had been erected in various locations along New Road were the only item that could be seen as evidence of the smart parking lot’s existence. Originally, those LED panels were installed to provide information on the number of parking spaces available, but they now display messages linked to the Covid-19 disaster relief effort.
A mobile shop owner in Bhaktapur, Adhikari, believes that the KMC is profiting from smart parking. “It appears like the KMC is profiting from smart parking,” he says. “I have to come here a lot to acquire supplies for my shop, and I have to spend a lot of money on parking because I have to come here so often.”
After smart digital parking became operational a month later, the Post ran an article about how residents in the New Road area were dissatisfied with the higher parking fees that had been implemented. The parking prices were revised at the sixth Municipal Assembly meeting of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, which was held in April. According to the modification, the City had announced that two-wheelers will be charged Rs15 for up to 30 minutes of parking and Rs25 for up to an hour of parking. For four-wheelers, the rate has been reduced to Rs50 for 30 minutes of parking and Rs60 for an hour of parking, respectively. However, such decision was never put into effect.
When questioned about the mismanagement and exorbitant parking fees in the neighborhood, KMC spokesperson Ishwor Man Dangol stated that he was not aware of the matter at hand.
“We haven’t been paying attention to the situation.” “I’ll look into it and get back to you,” Dangol said in an interview with the Post.
He also stated that the KMC will be abandoning the smart parking project for New Road in the near future. “Because it was our trial project, we were unaware of how difficult it would be to create parking spaces in such a congested road segment without generating traffic congestion and other problems,” Dangol explained.
According to Dangol, “the metropolis aims to eliminate all roadside parking lots from the New Road area since we are working on building a parking facility with a lift system,” he explained.
After being elected mayor in 2017, Bidya Sundar Shakya announced plans to build a multi-storey parking lot on New Road. The concept, however, did not take off, and the parking lot was never built. Shakya’s five-year term is set to come to an end in a few months. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City had announced intentions to construct an automated parking lot in the vicinity, with enough room to accommodate 400 automobiles, just a year before this.