HA NOI — While the number of personal vehicles in Ha Noi is increasing rapidly, the capital is still fumbling with solutions to tackle the dire shortage of parking facilities.
|A roadside is used for parking in Ha Noi. The city is seeking solutions to deal with a rapid increase in personal vehicles. — VNA/VNS Photo Truong Vi
Figures from the municipal Transport Department show that there are about 300,000 cars and over 3.8 million motorbikes of various kinds in the city at present, excluding the number of vehicles owned by people commuting from other provinces to work and study.
The number of personal vehicles is increasing by 15 per cent each year, but there are only 1,178 licensed parking lots in the city, meeting just 10 per cent of demand.
Funding for parking facilities is supposed to account for 3 per cent of the traffic development budget, but in Ha Noi, it is just one-tenth of that, according to Vice Chairman of the Ha Noi Planning and Development Association Dao Ngoc Nghiem.
The remaining 90 per cent of vehicle users in the capital use parking lots in apartment blocks, urban areas, agencies, schools, hospitals, roadsides and alleys.
This lack of parking facilities has led to the development of dozens of illegal parking lots on pavements and in vacant public places throughout the city.
With increasing demand and insufficient facilities, municipal authorities had allowed certain pavements, roadsides and alleys to be used for parking as a temporary measure, said deputy head of the Urban Research and Infrastructure Development Institute Luu Duc Hai.
"However, many of our roads were not designed for this use, and parking on them obstructs traffic and adds to congestion," he said.
"As well as this rapid increase in the number of personal vehicles, the shortage of parking lots and lack of comprehensive planning, investment and construction are also to blame," he added.
At a working session between the National Committee for Traffic Safety and Hoan Kiem District authorities on Friday, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang, who doubles as the committee's vice chairman, instructed Ha Noi authorities to take back the pavements for pedestrians.
Thang asked the Ha Noi People's Committee to actively mobilise businesses to invest in traffic infrastructure, including parking lots for local residents.
The ministry would petition the Government to simplify procedures for such projects.
Vice chief inspector of the municipal Transport Department Thach Nhu Sy said it was essential to adopt a new approach to attract more investors.
While residents struggle to find somewhere to park their vehicles, authorities have banned parking on 262 streets, but have not approved any new lots, causing problems for vehicle users.
In 2003, local authorities approved the construction of 35 parking lots with a capacity of 14,000 vehicles, but work has not even started yet.
Work to begin on underground parking facility
HCM CITY — Construction of the country's first underground parking lot in HCM City's District 1 is expected to resume in mid-August after a two-year delay.
Le Tuan, CEO of the Investment Development for Underground Space Corp (IUS), said construction of the five-storey parking lot five metres under Le Van Tam Park was scheduled to be completed in 30 months. When it opens in 2015, it would be able to accommodate 2,024 motorbikes, 1,250 cars, and 28 buses and trucks, according to figures from the IUS.
"We face no financial problems over the project," Tuan told journalists at a meeting organised by the city People's Committee to resolve any problems.
He blamed cumbersome procedures for hindering the progress of the project.
It will be built on a BOT (build, operate and transfer) basis, with the IUS operating the car park and commercial centre for 50 years.
The city has lined up seven other underground parking lots, including Trong Dong outdoor theatre, Hoa Lu Stadium, and Tao Dan Park.
Speaking at the meeting, deputy chairman of the municipal People's Committee Nguyen Huu Tin urged the Department of Transport and other agencies to remove hurdles faced by developers of parking lots and to offer incentives to attract more investment in similar infrastructure projects. — VNS
In addition, some locations that were earmarked for parking projects have been used for other purposes such as commercial centres, builders merchants and transit warehouses for farm produce, or simply left unused.
Head of the Ha Noi Parking Co's project management Pham Van Duc said the lack of funding for parking lots was among the key obstacles.
"Parking lots require heavy investment and it takes a long time to make a return on that outlay, not an attractive proposition for investors," he said.
In a recent working session with municipal authorities about traffic, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc urged Ha Noi to focus investment on developing parking areas for local citizens, a move expected to help develop traffic infrastructure comprehensively throughout the capital.
The good news is that the Ha Noi Parking Company is mapping out plans to build automated multi-storey parking lots on Tran Nhat Duat Street in Hoan Kiem District and Nguyen Cong Hoan Street in Ba Dinh District, which will be able to accommodate more than 350 cars.
The municipal transport department has mapped out a parking master plan for the city, under which nine more parking lots will be built before 2020 in areas with high vehicle density such as Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Hai Ba Trung and Dong Da.
Vice Chairman of the Ha Noi People's Committee Nguyen Van Khoi said there were more than 30 parking lots planned for the city, three of which were already underway. — VNS