Kathmandu residents appreciate the ‘smart parking’ in New Road, but complain of higher costsThe cost of Rs 25 per hour for parking two-wheelers and Rs 80 for four-wheelers is exorbitant, drivers say
Gopal Thapa visits New Road five times a day on average for work. Each time he books a parking space using the mobile app, Park KTM, and pays Rs 25, which is the minimum charge for motorbike parking. While Thapa appreciates the convenience of not having to look for a parking space each time, he thinks the charges are a little too high.
“I appreciate the initiative, but the cost we are paying is too high,” said Thapa, who paid Rs 25 for parking his motorbike for three minutes. “I have to come here five times a day. How can I afford to pay the same amount every time?”
Kathmandu Metropolitan City, in collaboration with the private company Wheels Truly Yours, had launched ‘smart parking’ at five different places in New Road on June 16. But while the system has provided some respite for drivers, there are complaints about the costs.
“Parking is more organised but they could have instituted a maximum of Rs15 for an hour,” said a woman parking her scooter, who refused to give her name.
The smart parking system is also based on a public-private partnership model where the private company takes 80 percent of the money raised through parking fees, with 20 percent going to the city authority. The minimum charge for parking two-wheelers is Rs25 per hour and Rs80 for four-wheelers.
“This is running as a trial,” said Ishwor Man Dangol, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City spokesperson. “We will consult with them regarding the fare issue.”
Wheels Truly Yours has deployed 45 staff at the five different parking spots in New Road—outside Rameshwaram Sweets, the road that leads to Indra Chowk, Dharmapath, Pako and RB Complex. Staff members have been provided with GoPro cameras to keep track of parked vehicles and drivers. The company has also installed LED screens at all the five places to display the number of parking spaces available.
“We are in the process of revising the ticket fee,” said Sailesh Raj Kunwar, operations director for Wheels Truly. “We are thinking of breaking down the ticket charge based on time. This will happen by this week.”
Kunwar further said that the company hopes to provide free parking for disabled-friendly three-wheelers and special discounts for electric vehicles.
Local store owners, who need to park their vehicles every day on New Road during business hours, are especially unhappy with the higher parking charges.
“My brother paid Rs200 for parking his motorcycle yesterday. If this continues, we’ll need to allocate Rs6,000 per month for parking,” said Tulshi Rana, who has been running a battery backup shop in New Road for the past decade. Rana said that he makes about Rs15,000 a month and cannot afford for half of his earnings to go towards parking. His brother now parks in Ranjana Galli, where there is no smart parking system.
Kunwar, however, said that the company has allocated spaces for shop owners in Dharmapath and behind Mahankal.
“We have allocated spaces where New Road businesspersons can park their vehicles free of cost,” he said. “We are also going to expand our system and are committed to work based on public feedback.”
There are also concerns about how ‘smart’ this parking system is. When a customer requests a parking spot through the app, they are provided with a telephone number to call. They then have to provide their licence plate number, which the parking staff note down. Upon arriving, the customer is presented with a paper token, which is scanned upon returning. All payments must be made in cash. The only ‘smart’ part of this process is when the customer selects whether it is a car or a bike they are driving and the display regarding the number of spaces available.