I WOULD like to comment on K. Suthakar’s article ‘The city that bays for motorists’ blood’ which was published on June 11.
I commend him especially for the excellent series of articles he and his staff wrote on the illegal hill clearings in Penang. Those investigative articles brought to the authority’s attention the disastrous happenings on the island.
However, I beg to differ with Suthakar on the above article on numerous points. But first, I do agree it would simplify matters, if the Penang Island City Council imposes a standard chargeable parking time throughout the island, for example, from 8am to 9pm. The city council is in the midst of doing a survey and collecting public feedback on this issue.
I offer a different view on other matters based on evidence and factual analysis.
First, the primary purpose of enforcement and fines for illegal parking is not to raise revenue. It is to instil obedience to law that sadly many Malaysians are not civic minded enough to follow.
Studies done by companies managing the parking systems in Kuala Lumpur and Penang show that between 50% and 70% do not display parking coupons, cheating the cities of millions of ringgit in parking fees.
This is because enforcement is lax and the penalties imposed are too small to deter errant behaviour.
As a councillor I have proposed stiffer penalties. Again this is not to collect revenue but to encourage proper behaviour. In fact, if stiff penalty can instil fear in people and no one parks illegally, the city will have zero revenue from fines. This is what we want to achieve – zero revenue from fines!
Furthermore, the law-abiding citizen has nothing to complain about stiff penalties since they would not be fined.
Secondly, people who park illegally without paying parking charges, some for hours or even the whole day, deprive others of precious parking space. Penang has about 11,000 parking bays. There will never be enough parking bays in any major city to accommodate all cars.
Building more multi-storey car parks does not solve this problem. This is another example of the Braess paradox where building more roads and car parks encourages more car traffic.
The solution to the problem is how to increase the circulation of parked cars so that others have a chance to find a parking spot.
The way most cities manage this problem is to limit the maximum number of hours one can park at any one time to one or two hours especially in high demand areas.
The other way is to increase parking charges. This can be done on an incremental basis, that is cheaper rates for the first hour and higher rates for subsequent hours; again this will increase car circulation and free up parking spaces.
Finally, surely one cannot equate parking charges paid to the city that provides parking lots to paying illegal car park attendants who demand exorbitant rates (RM5 to RM10) or risk having your car scratched.
DR LIM MAH HUI
Penang Island City councillor
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