Part 1: Lack of designated parking areas in the city: 

Due to either lack, or shortage of designated parking spaces, people are being forced to park in no parking zones while the city office and traffic police generate millions of rupees slapping fines. Meanwhile, KMC has no concrete plans to improve parking infrastructure in the valley. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Parthak Shakya, a resident of Kalopul, parked his motorbike at the edge of the main road in Maitidevi as he hastily went to purchase some groceries. When returning ten minutes later, he was shocked to see his motorcycle gone. Worried, he asked around when he learnt that his two-wheeler had been  impounded by city police officers.

There were a dozen others standing in queue along with Parthak Shakya at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) in Ramshahpath – at around 1 PM when Aawaaj News reached the premises. While half of them had blatantly chosen to disregard the law, the other half was forced to park at no-parking spaces due to lack of a dedicated facility.

Two-wheelers picked up by KMC from unauthorised parking spaces (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

Two-wheelers picked up by KMC from unauthorised parking spaces (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

An annoyed Shakya, who had other commitments in the afternoon shared, “Where do I go to park? Neither is there a designated parking area nor any empty space around to park.”

Shakya duly paid his Rs. 1000 fine, reclaimed his vehicle, and went about his day.

As time progressed, City Police continued to bring more impounded two-wheelers in a truck, lifting them from roadsides. By 3 PM, the City Police had seized over two dozen two-wheelers, imposing a fine of Rs. 1000 to each owner.

City Police, in collaboration with MTPD, conduct such actions daily by impounding vehicles parked alongside roadside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

“What kind of system is this?” asked Roshan Karki, one of the individuals whose bike was lifted from the Anamnagar area. And, almost in unison, everyone’s question was the same:

“Where do we park when there aren’t any designated spaces in the city – especially in commercial areas where parking facilities are a must?”

“It’s their act of earning money from us and feeding their stomachs. Instead of working to create more parking spaces, the government is just actively focused on how to levy fines on vehicle owners in the name of parking offences”, they gruntle before paying their fines.

Part 2: How much revenue is generated via parking fines?

Before pursuing this article, for Aawaaj News, it was important to understand how much revenue is being earned through parking fees and sub-leasing parking facilities by authorities. And more importantly, where is it being spent? Is the money being earned used for administrative purposes, or to improve parking infrastructure in the valley?

On an average, the city office issues tickets to over three dozen people for parking their two-wheelers on roadsides daily. As per the data of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) office, the city office generated around 12.3 million in revenue by booking more than 12,000 vehicles in the fiscal year 2018-2019. In the fiscal years 2019–2020 and 2020–2021, the revenue crossed 10 million each year respectively. Similarly, from December 16, 2021 to March 22, 2022, the city office generated Rs. 39, 92, 300 just by ticketing over 3500 people for parking violations.

And it’s not just the city office that fines people for haphazard parking. The MTPD also issues tickets for parking violations by chaining two-wheelers and putting wheel clamps on four-wheelers parked on the roadside.

A traffic police officer proceeds to clamp a vehicle parked in a no-parking area (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

A traffic police officer proceeds to clamp a vehicle parked in a no-parking area (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

In the fiscal year 2018-19, the division booked around 38,886 two-wheelers and four-wheelers, of which 90 per cent were two-wheelers, earning Rs 38.8 million in revenue, and the amount doesn’t differ much in the case of other fiscal years either. As per DSP Sunil Jung Shah of MTPD, every year the division generates millions of rupees by booking vehicles parked in no parking zones.

Part 3: Where does all the generated revenue go?

According to KMC spokesperson, Ishwar Man Dangol, “The money goes directly to the central account of the Metropolitan City.” And, when asked, what will be done with the money, Dangol repled that it was being used for KMC development works.

When our reporter asked shouldn’t revenues generated from parking violations be utilised to develop parking infrastructure in the valley, we were explained by Dangol that “that is not how the system works”.

City police officers load illegally parked vehicles into their truck. (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

City police officers load illegally parked vehicles into their truck. (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

“We allocate budget as per the need of infrastructure and spend accordingly. If we start utilising funds for the specific areas from where they have been collected, then it will be a great problem. For instance to build a multi-storey parking facility, we will need 500 million or more. Will money raised from parking fines fund such a massive project”, he explained.

Though Dangol’s statement comes with logic, the team at Aawaaj News cannot help but remark at how a basic problem like improving parking infrastructure requires solutions like “multi-storeyed building”. This might be the case in densely commercialised areas, however in many suburban areas, the problem could be solved by identifying the need of parking spaces, and allocating available public land for parking.

Meanwhile SSP Shah, agreeing with Aawaaj News shared his belief that that revenue generated from road and fines should be utilised on the development of roads and their related infrastructure.

“We have been sharing the same with concerned stake holders but there has been no response so far. And the revenue generated from fines by MTPD goes directly to the account of the FinanceMiinistry and it gets utilised in administrative costs, development works and all other operations of the government and its projects”, he shared.

Dispelling rumours that MTPD officers utilise the revenue generated for their own benefits, Shah said “We don’t have the right to use a single penny generated from fines. We solely depend upon our salaries”, he said.

Part 4: What happened to the tall claims of improving parking infrastructure by KMC Mayor Shakya?

KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya (Image: KMC Website)

KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya (Image: KMC Website)

5 years ago, around the same time, ahead of the local level elections, we could hear our current Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya making tall claims about improving parking facilities within the KMC region. Terms like “mult-storey parking system”, “state-of-the-art parking facility” and “smart-parking” were heard much too often.

5 years later, the mayor and his team have hardly anything to show. When KMC Mayor Shakya was asked what has happened to the parking space projects, he simply said “I am busy. I will talk about this later”. As of March 28, his phone comes switched off. When our reporter tried to visit him, KMC officials said he was out of town.

Dongol however was helpful with information. According to him, “KMC has allocated 80 spaces as parking facilities”. The knowledge of its existence however is limited within the confines of KMC.

“We have collaborated with local levels to utilise the space in their area for the parking. Initially there were 80 parking spaces in the valley, but I’m not sure of the exact status right now”, he said.

When Spokesperson Dangol was asked regarding a multi-storey automated car parking system in Dharmapath, which was announced in 2017, and a multi-storey parking lot in Teku, which was announced in 2020, he took a long pause and said, “The study is being done and we are at the final phase of its planning.” And upon being asked why such projects were always delayed, he said, “There are many criteria that need to be fulfilled. It can’t be done right away. So it takes time.”

The automated car parking system in Dharmapath was said to be spread over an area of 15 acres of land and be constructed in two years at a cost of Rs. 90 million under a public-private partnership model. The nine-storey building was said to have the capacity to hold up to 200 cars at any point of time.

Similarly, a multi-storey parking lot in Teku was said to be equipped with a mechanical system designed to minimise the area required for parking cars and provide parking for cars on multiple levels stacked vertically. The building was said to cover an area of 10,000 square feet, and the construction cost was estimated at Rs. 600 million. Furthermore, the eight-storey parking facility was said to accommodate 80 four-wheelers and 100 two-wheelers.

Though Dangol claims that the KMC office is in the final phase of calling the tender, as per the source inside the KMC, no such work has been put on the table. “There had been discussion, but nothing has been finalized yet. Kathmandu is not getting any proper parking facilities yet. It might take years and years to develop one.”

This aforementioned parking facility is not the first time KMC has put it forward. Its past proposals to build three multi-story parking systems at New Road, Khullamanch, and Lainchaur are now history.

Part 5: Revenue from smart parking systems:

Vehicles parked in New Road’s smart parking area. (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

Parking is a serious problem in the valley. With around 18 lakh vehicles plying the streets of Kathmandu, as per MTPD data, the valley has been suffering a lot in terms of parking facilities. And apparently, apart from taking fines for parking violations, no significant work has been done to provide a parking facility by the KMC.

Currenty five smart parking zones have been designated and are in operation in KMC – in New Road, Durbarmarg, and Thamel. Digital display boards are installed in the aforementioned places to provide information regarding the availability of parking spaces for two-wheelers and four-wheelers. A two-wheeler is charged Rs. 25 while a four-wheeler is charged Rs. 80–85 per hour. According to Ishwor Man Dangol, the KMC’s spokesperson, the KMC receives 20% of the total collected amount, while the remaining 80% is distributed to the private company Wheels Truly Yours Pvt Ltd, which has been operating the smart parking. From August 2019 to February 2022, the KMC office’s 20% share was more than Rs 1.17 million.

These parking spots have to a great extent helped “people with parking. Otherwise, it would have taken half an hour to search for a parking spot, “shared one of the individuals who was seen parking his vehicle at Durbar Marg.

But these parking spots, which are at the roadside, though have helped a lot of people, have been creating a problem for traffic management. Especially in New Road areas, vehicles are seen taking up more than half the road obstructing vehicular movements. SSP Shah indicated the need for a proper parking facility “which would make the vehicle owner feel safe about their vehicle, while creating no burden on traffic movements.”

Part 6: We too, are a part of the problem:

Haphazardly parked vehicles cause obstruction of traffic. (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

Haphazardly parked vehicles cause obstruction of traffic. (Image: Nishant Singh Gurung)

During the course of this reporting, while a large part of the problem could be attributed to lack of parking facilities, a recurring theme was that “we, the public too are a part of the problem”.

As per Dongol, a study by KMC showed that many business  houses had converted their underground parking spaces into warehouses, and employees had no option but to park their vehicles on the streets.

Similarly, as per MTPD, vehicle owners till date have to park right outside the shop or the place they are visiting. “They can’t bother themselves with finding an open area to park and walk a few metres”, SSP Shah added.

Areas like Baneshwor, Dilli Bazaar, Maiti Devi, where commercial and educational establishments are plenty, people are often seen carelessly parking their vehicles along the road without a care for the obstruction in vehicular movement they are causing. “This compounds to the problem”, SSP Shah added. “We already have a parking problem, and now this problem is trickling into vehicular movement obstruction. The public too has to be conscious of their actions”, he added.