A space multiplier

The total number of vehicles registered in the Sultanate by the end of March this year stood at 1,387,139

SAMUEL KUTTY –
MUSCAT, APRIL 28 –
Multi-storey parking facilities in various places in Muscat are a blessing for motorists tired of driving around in circles and looking for a parking slot. The construction of such a facility, which is now on at the congested Central Business District (CBD) in Ruwi will ease parking woes of the area. “Land scarcity has been one of the major hurdles in providing enough space for parking in the city. Now that Ministry of Housing have allocated plots in some parts of the city where multi-storey parking is being erected to solve the issue”, said an official at Muscat Municipality.
“Now an end to the issue is in sight for thousands of motorists who struggle every day to find parking in Muscat”, said the official referring to the CBD parking facility. The Ministry of Housing had earlier allotted plots for parking in various busy areas in the city including Maabela, CBD, Muttrah, Al Khoudh, Ghala and Bausher. “Presently commercial areas are in focus because of the large number of vehicles to be parked at these places during day time”, he said.
According to data from National Centre for Statistics and Information, the total number of vehicles registered in the Sultanate by the end of March this year stood at 1,387,139.
The number of new vehicles registered as ‘private’, which includes imported and temporary registration, in the first three months of this year stood at 13,751 accounting for the majority of vehicle registration despite a 23.4 per cent drop compared with the same period of last year. “Even though there is a fall in the number of private vehicles, parking is becoming more and more limited due to the fact that many households have more than one vehicle these days”, the official said. Many motorists complain that they can’t seem to find a spot, others say even if there is space it is often a tough job to squeeze in your vehicle.
The parking problem at the airport has already been solved thanks to the introduction of the multi-storey parking facility. The Royal Hospital also recently opened a facility which can accommodate 487 vehicles.
As the city’s prosperity grows, so does its traffic. A majority of the people are forced to leave their cars at distant places due to few free or prepaid parking. Visitors to traditional markets and hospitals often find themselves in such situations in Muscat.
Lack of adequate parking space forces motorists to park vehicles in a haphazard manner which may cause accidents.
“The civic body is aware of the present situation and is actively seeking solutions to the problems. Clearly there is only so much they can do in the existing developed areas. We understand their current focus is finding ways to safeguard the newer developing areas from suffering the same fate”, the official said. According to an official at the town planning section of the Municipality, permission is not given to any residential or commercial building which do not have parking facility in its plan. “Parking facility is mandatory for approval of building plans”, he said.
Article 96 of Muscat Municipality Building Regulation stipulates: “Car parking shall be provided in each building according to the use of the building. These shall be within the legal boundaries of the plot.” For residential areas, the municipal law requires one car parking at least for every unit (flat) or a single family residence. In the case of commercial and commercial-cum-residential area, it stipulates one parking facility for every flat or office or shop. “If the area of the office or shop exceeds 100 sqm, an additional car park shall be provided for every 50 sqm”, the law stipulates.