Saturday, October 23, 2004

Any end in sight to Pay and Park mess?

Does the BMP plan to do anything at all to set right the mess that the Pay and Park system has degenerated into? When the system started out,in 2001 , each parking zone was clearly demarcated with sign boards detailing the roads/areas covered under that zone, the category that it belonged to ("A' category entailed a higher fee than "B" category), the contractor who held the license for that zone and the men who were collecting the fees had to carry photo identity cards issued by the BMP. Soon, the scam of fake parking tickets being used to collect higher than mandated fees broke out and the BMP cracked down on a few erring contractors and announced plans to revamp the system.

Like most things with our powers-that-be, no action was taken and the system has been allowed to sink to newer depths with each passing day. All the signboards have disappeared. One can no longer tell if a particular area is even a BMP designated pay and park zone. Some guy just stretches his hand out and people fork out the money and go on their way without batting an eyelid. While, on the face of it, the tickets look genuine, "A" category tickets are handed out in nearby "B" category locations and higher charges are collected. For instance, parking within the premises and the parts abutting (stretch of 9th Main Road from Jayanagar Bus Stand to 4th Block Circle and 10th Main Road from 27th Cross to 30th Cross) the Jayanagar Shopping Complex itself are "A" category locations which come marked as "Jayanagar Shopping Complex". But the same tickets are handed out at parking lots on 11th Main Road, 27th Cross etc (which are "B" category locations) because they are in close proximity to the Shopping Complex and since today the number of people who have lived in Bangalore for 5 years or less probably outnumber those who have lived for 5 years or more, they can't tell the difference anyway, very conveniently for the scamsters.

Whether the BMP does anything or not, here is what you as a conscious citizen can do:

Insist on a coupon every time you are asked for parking charges.
Check if the zone marked on the ticket matches the location you have parked at. If it does not, refuse to pay unless given the appropriate ticket.
Check for any signs of the tickets being fake (Absence of the BMP logo, ticket numbers stamped on rather than being printed).
On any suspicion demand to see the identity card of the parking attendant. Without one, he does not have the right to collect any money.

Don't hesitate to take any of the above mentioned actions. You will probably have to take a few abuses but if you are firm then the parking attendants usually back off since its amply clear that they are running a racket.

Once, when I was arguing with a parking attendant about the validity of the ticket he had issued me, some one remarked, "What a fuss over 50 paise" (the difference in charges for first 2 hours between "A" and "B" category locations for 2-wheelers). I think it is precisely this non-questioning attitude of ours that is responsible for governance in this country touching the depths it has today. Its never too late to make a beginning. And you don't need a lot of guts either to take on a parking attendant. At least that would give us the experience, courage and motivation to take on the bigger fish.


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