GEORGE Town has become a major tourist attraction since it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008.
Tourists thronging the city during the holidays have made it more lively, but at the same time, the city has now become overcrowded and jammed with people and cars.
The lanes in the George Town enclave are narrow and have limited parking lots to cater to the big crowds.
According to statistics released by the Road Transport Department in 2012, there are 2.1 million registered vehicles in Penang.
Yet, the state has a population of only 1.6 million.
Penang Municipal Council statistics also revealed there were 11,000 parking lots under the council’s jurisdiction, with George Town having only 5,721.
This is not enough to cater to the needs of motorists.
Driving around block after block in the inner city to look for a parking space is nothing new to Penangites and for some, it is a tiresome daily task.
I don’t mind parking a bit further away from my destination and just walking there but when luck is not at my side, I will need to go around for 30 minutes or more before finding parking space.
It gets on my goat (pun intended) when I see motorcycles, trishaws or hawker’s pushcarts ‘parking’ on the lots.
In some cases, night clubs and illegal parking attendants will be ‘reserving’ these lots for their customers.
There are also times when I see ‘empty’ parking lots from afar but when I drive nearer, I find only objects occupying these spaces to my frustration.
These objects range from pails, stools and cooking oil or mineral water bottles filled with water to broken furniture, green bins provided by the council and cement poles.
Certain people, especially those living in pre-war houses, use these objects to ‘reserve’ the lots for their own vehicles.
I understand these old houses were designed without a garage or a parking compound but please bear in mind that the council parking lots are meant for the public, and you park on a first-come-first-served basis.
No one should reserve a public parking lot unless they have paid the council for a monthly permit.
I remember a councillor once telling me that it was hard for the council to issue summonses to the culprits unless they were caught in the act of placing the objects.
He also told me that they would give out pamphlets to the residents to create awareness on this matter.
For me, the soft approach is not so effective and the council should be more strict in taking action against the culprits.
If the council is unable to take legal action against them, the enforcement officers should at least seize the objects when they patrol the streets.
This will ensure that the motorists have more parking lots.