Car parking mafia is active illegally

The Sindh High Court (SHC) had earlier this year ordered the relevant authorities to take action against the illegal parking mafia that has been busy ‘charging’ parking fee from motorists across Karachi (‘Drive against illegal parking spaces in city begins today, SHC told’ [Jan 18]). But it seems the orders fell on the infamously deaf ears of the relevant authorities, for the parking mafia thugs continue to ‘charge’ the same fee and to harass the citizens over even a polite argument.

One always experiences unauthorised people collecting illegal parking fees at several places, especially at and around commercial areas, such as Saddar, Tariq Road and even the commercial hubs that are now a part of almost every residential area, like, say, North Nazim-abad, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and others. These people are backed by influential groups and individuals who mint millions of rupees round the year, every year and year after year.

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If someone goes along with his family to a place where these goons operate and does not have change, or simply refuses to pay them, these people harass and humiliate them for Rs50. Why is there no action taken against them?

To make matters worse, these people do not take responsibility of the safety of the vehicles. Even the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) does not provide safety to the vehicles despite collecting parking fees for which it has earned the ire of the higher judiciary recently (‘Lack of security at charged parking spaces angers SHC’ [Nov 10]).

If someone refuses to pay, the people collecting the fee illegally, rather extortion, have the audacity to threaten them with ‘consequences’. And there, indeed, are consequences. The vehicle is picked up by traffic police lifter if the extortion amount is not paid to those touts.

One then has to find the traffic police post from where one may get the vehicle released after paying Rs300 for a motorcycle and Rs700 for a car as challan. This is ample evidence that this illegal ‘parking fee’ racket is being run with the active and blanket support of traffic police.

The question is: when a place is marked a no-parking zone, how can one park a vehicle by paying a ‘fee’ and why it is lifted if the vehicle-owner refuses to be blackmailed?

This mafia has become a nuisance for the citizens of Karachi, especially motorists, who already face mental and physical agony while commuting between their homes and workplaces daily. While people of Karachi have already been facing traffic jams and harassment by traffic police on one pretext or the other, they face parking mafia nuisance when they reach their destinations and want to park their vehicles. Why? Will someone put this parking mafia on the leash or will the citizens of Karachi live out their lives putting up with this misery?

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