Panaji has been crying for parking spaces for the astronomically growing number of vehicles. The city eagerly looks forward to the promise of the management of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL) to create 4,000 parking slots between Old Goa and Dona Paula. These ultramodern parking facilities, to be managed by Goa Intelligent City Management System under the Smart City Mission, would be ready in next six months.
The IPSCDL has identified 450 locations from Dona Paula to Panaji and from Ribandar to Old Goa for parking slots. These slots will be covered by high-definition CCTVs and state-of-the-art technology-based city surveillance system. Panaji, despite being one of the oldest cities in Asia, is ridden with illegal and haphazard parking and total disregard to traffic rules by most motorists. The new parking arrangements should hopefully put the city traffic system in some order. Used to their violations, however, most vehicle owners might avoid using parking slots and still illegally park their vehicles on the roads. The authorities would need to be prompt in penalizing the violators. If that does not happen, the money used for creating parking spaces would be wasted.
The smart parking system is expected to have all aspects of parking management, technology integrated system, including sensor-based vehicle detection, kiosks for payments, communication gateway, mobile application for drivers and information system. A trial run of the technology is currently under way. Four firms – BSNL, Honeywell, L&T and NEC – are participating in the trial.
The entire cost of the system to be installed across the identified area is going to be Rs 180 crore. The work on creating the parking facilities and installation of modern technological equipments is expected to begin by mid-June after the financial bids made by the four companies are opened. As proper signs would be necessary to demarcate the parking spaces, the authorities should ensure that they are not damaged and uprooted by unscrupulous elements.
There have been instances in which road signs and boards have been removed or defaced within days of them being installed in the state. As it is the first time that some serious efforts are being made to create parking slots running into thousands and also to monitor the same through technology, steps must be taken to make sure the endeavour delivers positive results.
A proper implementation of the project will help in not only bringing the disorder often seen on roads and streets in and around Panaji to an end but also prevent accidents. The brawls that often take place over the issue of parking between motorists can also be avoided. As modern technology with cameras using licence plate and facial recognition technology and capturing any traffic violation and suspected law violators will be installed to monitor activities at the parking facilities, it will help the law enforcement authorities to take action against errant motorists without them being physically present at the venue of offences.
Besides the system will have other features too, including road sensors which will be able to collect data about current traffic patterns and alert drivers through a smart city app when problems arise and direct them to a quicker route. Setting up such facilities was long overdue. A smooth flow of traffic will help the authorities to reduce congestion. Since the Goa Intelligent City Management System is a managed shared service for the entire state and not just for Panaji the state authorities can use it to set the traffic movement and parking management in order and carry out surveillance throughout the state.
The plan presumably is to create multi-storied parking lots. As a large space is occupied by cars used by the clients patronizing floating casinos which cause traffic jams the Smart City Mission must shift the parking of the cars and other vehicles to multi-storied parking facilities or at Patto plaza so as to ease traffic on city roads. What has happened to the proposal to use the land in possession of the armed forces for constructing parking facilities?
The Smart City Mission must also make certain parts of the city, such as 18th June Road, car free and allow only movements of people on foot up and down the road. In many segments, double parking on the road leaves very little space for movement for vehicles, even though it was made one way in order to make the traffic movement smooth. Making 18th June Road free with sufficient parking on the arterial roads, either underground or multi-storied, would make it far more pleasant for the shoppers. Even little children can walk freely down the road.