SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE TO UNRAVEL THE VEHICLE PARKING PUZZLE IN THIKA TOWN



If you always drive to Thika Town or have recently driven into the CBD, you will bear me witness how difficult it is to find some parking space for your automobile. It has just turned out into a nightmare nowadays. Thika Town no longer has enough parking facilities to meet the rising demand of its increased motorized populace. Worse still, the town lacks any privately run surface level parking spaces to supplement the county government's own spaces.
It is a common phenomenon for drivers to spend 20 minutes looking for a parking spot especially on weekdays. It is not uncommon too to find vehicles double-parking at parking spots or cars illegally parked on sidewalks, pavements or roundabouts.
The increased number of ex-Japanese private vehicles hitting the roads on daily basis and the rising population and increased urban sprawl has resulted in this increased demand for parking spaces. The supply of this vital infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the growth of mobility.
Going round the CBD, it is quite evident that there is hardly any open space left to increase the supply by providing more parking slots, thus making it very difficult for the County Government of Kiambu supply to keep up with the demand. This calls for the authorities to seriously assess land use, optimally utilizing available space by setting up by-laws that ensure all buildings that are built on the street-front, leave space for parking at the back or provide either underground or roof parking for their clients. This will make it possible to make use of the ground as normal and have vehicles parked at the underground. Currently, apart from just a few buildings in town who have their own underground parking lot, majority of them have converted the same into shops and business stalls, leaving their clients with the headache of looking for this scarce facility.


Another solution to this dilemma is for the county government coming up with solutions geared towards reducing or eliminating people's necessity to drive into the CBD. They can employ effective traffic demand management strategies that will influence demand rather than reacting to demand. The key to controlling demand is a development of an efficient public transport service/system. Unless people have a reliable alternative to connecting to their various origins and destinations, they will continue using private cars and hence the increasing demand on limited supply.
This can be made possible by coming up with policies that provide non-motorized and rapid transit alternatives so that parking demand is reduced. They should make the town more compact and walkable, making driving unnecessary, inconvenient and expensive.
This can be achieved by first looking for the availability of enough land in good locations to develop enough parking facilities. Storied parking lots too can be constructed within the CBD and thereafter the county government imposes heavy congestion parking charges so as to discourage those who still want to drive to town. An integrated public transport system concept should then be put in place, seeking to co-ordinate all public transport systems such that they operate as an entity complementing each other, thus plugging all transportation gaps, and hence providing a seamless travel for commuters.
They too can come up with an itegrated rapid bus transit owned and managed by one public company.
We simply need to improve the public transport system in the town so as to encourage people to leave their cars on the outskirts of the CBD and use these public transport. Improving public transport such that it operates efficiently and according to schedules, can go a long way in attracting those using private vehicles to use public transport, thus solving the challenges of parking and congestion. An improved, affordable and convinient transport system will see more and more people using it and less cars coming in which will indirectly will free up a lot of land currently used for car parking. Limiting the demand for car parking spaces eventually reduces its demand.
Remember, urban productivity is highly dependent on the efficiency of its transport system to move labour, consumers and freight between multiple origins and destinations.
Congestion and parking are also interrelated since looking for a parking space creates additional delays and impairs local circulation. Since vehicles spend the majority of the time parked, motorization has expanded the demand for parking space, which has created space consumption problems particularly in central  areas; the spatial imprint of parked vehicles is significant.
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