Break parking bullies' hold

Motorists are increasingly growing less tolerant of those who reserve public parking bays without the local council's approval.

The top four culprits are said to be restaurants, street hawkers, automobile workshops and car accessory shops who often place chairs and plastic containers among other items to reserve a spot for their customers.

For the public's knowledge, parking bays legally reserved by business proprietors for their customers would have red lines painted to demarcate a lot.

There are also special stands or barriers placed in the centre of the reserved lot, while some councils have their name painted on the space.

Bays with yellow or white lines are meant for public parking and are not legally reserved.

Humanitarian worker Muhammad Fuad Zakaria from Bangi said illegal parking bay hoggers did not deserve the public's consideration.

"If I see a parking bay with yellow lines, I will get down from my car, remove the obstacle placed there and park anyway," he said.

His actions have put him in confrontational situations but he maintained that he had a rightful stand as long as the lines were not painted red.

To counter the verbal abuse and threats of scratching his car, he reported the culprits to the local council.

Gym owner Terry Gallyot said the authorities must take sterner action as culprits were becoming bolder.

Gallyot's issue is a restaurant operating below his gym.

Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

"The workers came up to my office telling me to move my car so they can put their tables and chairs at the bay where I was parked," said Gallyot in disbelief.

Restaurant manager Chris Gomez said it was time the culprits learned a lesson.

"Should chairs, stools or cones be placed at parking bays to deprive the public of parking, then the highest punishment should be given.

"This issue also brings to mind parking touts operating near night entertainment areas.

"They behave like gangsters and charge RM10 to RM15 after 6pm.

"These people must be brought to task first," said Gomez.

Social business entrepreneur Allen Teh added that many auto repair shops have also taken for granted that parking spaces in front of their shop was automatically theirs.

They argue that customers have to drive their car into the shop, so the parking bay outside the shop must be left vacant.

Teh said the problem would escalate into more serious issues if the authorities continued to keep mum.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Enforcement Unit Secretariat Management Division head Mohd Hariyardi Mohd Nor said there was no excuse for businesses to reserve parking bays illegally.

"They can apply to the councils to rent them on a seasonal basis," he said.

In fact, for some councils, it is compulsory for car workshops to reserve at least two parking bays for use by customers.

Under the Road Transport Act 1987, no one is allowed to block a parking space.

Mohd Hariyardi said DBKL's enforcement unit conducted eight operations a month to remove such obstructions.

Up to June, 1,123 notices were issued and RM5,510 in fines were collected in Kuala Lumpur.

Not only does the practice deny others access to public amenities, those who hog parking bays illegally deprive local councils of revenue too.

"Therefore, any form of unauthorised blockage to prevent the use of a parking facility is illegal," said Datuk Nik Haidi Nik Mohamad, the managing director of Vista Summerose that managed the City Car Park System (CCP) in partnership with Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP).

Nik Haidi said CCP sold 3,690 reserved bays.

Fees collected from the reservation of parking bays amounted to RM400,000 last year.

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"Part of this will go back to the council as agreed between YWP and DBKL when the former was appointed to manage the city's parking system.

"The council will receive 35 per cent of the gross revenue derived from income collected from parking bays every month," said Nik Haidi.

He added for every six parking bays under DBKL's jurisdiction, only one bay was allowed to be reserved.

This ratio can only be used if all 46,100 bays under the local council could be utilised.

As parking bays in hospitals, houses of worship and residential areas are non-chargeable, the actual number of parking bays qualified for inclusion in the ratio is only 36,000.

This puts the real ratio at one reserved bay for every nine parking bays.

Malaysian Indian Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Datuk Syed Jamarul Khan said the practice of reserving parking bays would drive away customers.

"The ratio needs to be revised so the number of parking bays for the public can increase," he said.

Ideally, in high-traffic areas like Jalan Masjid India, motorists should not be allowed to occupy one space for more than two hours.

"If a vehicle owner can move his car after the time period is up, it will create more parking for others," added Jamarul.

Federation of Automotive Workshop Owners' Association of Malaysia president Datuk Too Peng Huat advised car workshops to respect any rules set by the local council.

"If a workshop owner does not go through the proper applications to ensure the smooth running of his business, why would a customer leave his car in their hands?"

On complaints from some businesses that rental was too expensive, Too said it was not.

He pointed out that even at a maximum rate of RM400 monthly for reserved parking bays in the city, the business owner is only paying RM14 a day.

While parking bays in Kuala Lumpur are still available for rent, those wanting one in Petaling Jaya have a long queue ahead of them.

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said the council only allowed 500 bays for private reservation from the 21,000 bays under its jurisdiction.

Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

In busy areas like SS2, Section 14 and Section 17, the vetting process is even more stringent.

In high-density streets like SS2/62 for example, reservation of lots are not allowed.

In PJS11 a light industrial area in Subang Jaya with more than a hundred automobile shops, business owners said they had no choice but to take up parking bays.

To make things worse, the area is surrounded by a shopping mall, hospital, hotels and a university.

Although there is ample parking space at the Sunway Bus Rapid Transit Complex nearby, business owners say they often had to deal with squabbles over parking bays.

The public would rather go to the industrial area as parking is free whereas the maximum charge at the complex is RM6 a day.

"So far the workshops have managed to come to an understanding with drivers.

"We tell them nicely that if they block our entrance, we will not be able to do business.

"But if the owner is not around, we have a jack on standby to move the vehicle to the side.

"When the driver returns, we will explain," said JC Racing Car Service Centre owner Jackie Ng, who has been running his business in the area for the past 10 years.

Subang Jaya Muncipal Council (MPSJ) Corporate and Strategic Management Department deputy director Azfarizal Abdul Rashid said the council would conduct an in-depth study of the area to come up with a solution as the nature of activities in PJS11 had changed.

Overall, MPSJ has 1,200 parking bays under its jurisdiction.

"The quota for reserved bays is not more than 10 per cent of the number of parking bays found on a single street," said Azfarizal.