31 parking touts arrested so far in JB, concerted effort needed to address issue

Insufficient parking bays in the city gives parking touts the opportunity to collect money from motorists.

THE police have been actively going after illegal parking touts in the city, says Johor police chief Comm Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat.

He said 22 operations had been carried out by the Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department (JSPT) and 31 arrests were made so far this year.

“The feedback from the public is that they felt obliged to pay the parking touts out of fear that their vehicles could be damaged if they did not pay.

“Some touts even force the motorists to pay a certain amount and when they refuse, the touts resort to using foul language, which causes conflict.

“Activities like this are against the law and stern action is taken.

“Those arrested face action under Section 50(3) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for using force to obtain a payment and causing nuisance, which carries a maximum fine of RM2,000 upon conviction,” he told StarMetro.

Comm Kamarul Zaman investigations revealed that some parking touts were drug addicts and homeless individuals.

Comm Kamarul Zaman says investigations reveal that some parking touts are drug addicts and homeless individuals.Comm Kamarul Zaman says investigations reveal that some parking touts are drug addicts and homeless individuals.

“I have given strict instructions to JSPT to clamp down on parking touts as it indirectly affects Johor’s image, perception and safety in the eyes of the public and tourists.

“The police will continue monitoring the situation to put an end to the illegal activities,” he said, adding that those with information could call the state police hotline via 07-221 2999.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s faculty of built environment and surveying deputy dean (research, development and innovation) Prof Dr Muhammad Zaly Shah Muhammad Hussein said a concerted effort was needed to address the issue of parking touts.

“This goes much deeper than just the touts needing money.

“Their mere existence spells social ills in the society, maybe from the lack of jobs and lack of support from the community.

“Some of the ‘street-smart individuals’ may not be highly educated but they know where to look for income and how to avoid the authorities.

“Many also appear at night as the lack of enforcement by council officers allows them to take advantage of the situation and prey on victims.

“A thorough study should be conducted to identify who are these touts and what are their motivations, in order to come up with more effective solutions.

“Otherwise, it will just be a game of cat and mouse, making it difficult to eradicate the problem,” he said.

Prof Muhammad Zaly, who is an expert in transport, logistics, construction and built environment, said insufficient parking spaces in the city also contributed to the presence of parking touts.

“Frustrated motorists, after making a few rounds in search of a vacant parking bay, tend to park illegally on road shoulders, yellow-lined kerbside and even in front of a bus stop.

“Aside from giving parking touts the opportunity to collect money from motorists, parking illegally can also lead to accidents as it creates visual hazards, because their parked vehicles make it difficult for other motorists to see where they are going especially when turning out of a junction.

“Efforts to educate motorists should be done too, as not many people realise that they are not entitled to insurance compensation if they get into an accident while their vehicle is parked in an illegal spot or when they are driving in a reckless manner.

“It looks like a simple issue but it is deep-rooted and related to various aspects,” he said.

He added that there were law-abiding citizens who wanted to park their vehicles at legal parking spots but insufficient spaces made it a challenge for them.

Prof Muhammad Zaly says insufficient legal parking spaces in the city also contributes to the presence of parking touts. Prof Muhammad Zaly says insufficient legal parking spaces in the city also contributes to the presence of parking touts.

Prof Muhammad Zaly stressed the need for adequate parking spaces in the city and that proper planning to forecast future vehicle numbers should be done by the local authorities before approving commercial development.

“The lack of parking spaces also slows down traffic and creates congestion as drivers slow down to look for vacant parking spaces or even stop to wait for one.

“It also leads to more carbon emission, noise pollution and vibrations to buildings; it is a domino effect,” he added.

Prof Muhammad Zaly said there was a lack of multistorey public carparks in the city and that illegal parking was a loss of potential income for the local authorities.

He suggested that the authorities look into building such facilities through public-private partnership to share profits as a long-term solution.

“Cities like Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York and also Kuala Terengganu have multistorey carparks that are equipped with stacking technology, allowing several vehicles to vertically park in one spot.

“Another sustainable solution to the parking problem is to improve the public transport system and establish more routes to provide more convenience to the people in moving around without having to drive their own vehicles everywhere,” he said. — By YEE XIANG YUN

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