At a time when visitors to offices around City Center Doha (CCD) complain of an acute shortage of parking slots, a multi-level car parking hub in West Bay lies largely vacant as it has failed to grab the attention of motorists.
The parking facility, operated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning, was opened with much fanfare a few months ago. Spread across seven storeys, including a spacious “penthouse” at the top, it mostly wears a deserted look these days except for the first three floors and a portion of the fourth floor.
The parking hub, which can be used free of cost, is located opposite the CCD main entrance and lies in the vicinity of towers housing the Doha offices of RasGas and Dolphin Energy.
On two successive visits to the complex last week, it was found that customers were making optimum use of only the first three floors. While the fourth storey did have some vehicles parked there, almost 75% was lying vacant. The situation worsened beyond that. Due to the poor occupancy, it appeared that none of the upper floors was cleaned properly as coffee cups and other items were found littered there.
It was learnt that the facility could accommodate 1,100-1,200 cars at a time, but not even half the parking slots were occupied when Gulf Times visited the place during the morning peak hour.
The visit also revealed that a number of cars were not parked properly on the floors where the occupancy was high. “One can see wrongly-parked vehicles on levels 1 and 2 almost every day. However, due to the availability of a large number of slots in the complex, no one seems to have come forward with a complaint,” said an expatriate who has been using the facility since Day I.
He said the parking complex suffered from lack of patronage among commuters who visited the area regularly. The expatriate, whose office was located in the vicinity, said the top three levels and the “penthouse” area had no takers on most days. According to some others who used the place on a daily basis, it was doubtful if any other parking complex in Doha had such a low occupancy.
Some of the customers said if shuttle services were provided to the four Tower Zones in West Bay to ferry people who parked their vehicles in the complex, the fortunes of the facility would improve drastically. “Otherwise, not too many customers would like to walk even 200m in the morning when everybody is in a hurry to reach office,” said a daily user. “The less said the better about people being forced to walk from the parking hub to reach their offices in the scorching summer heat.”
Vehicle users desperately seeking for parking space in the Tower Zone housing the offices of Kahramaa, Ashghal and Doha Bank, among others, is a common sight. Many of them try their luck and look for space on a ground near the Kahramaa headquarters where construction equipment and other materials are lying. These indicate that work may start there in the near future.
There are a few multi-level free parking facilities available in the area, but these are meant for the exclusive use of select offices. On the upper levels of some of them, as in the urban planning ministry’s parking lot, there are plenty of vacant slots. “If people are willing
to pay for them, why should they be disallowed from using the facility?” argued the owner of a vehicle.
The general opinion, it seems, is that shuttle services should be introduced at 10-minute intervals from the car parking hub to all four Tower Zones - at least during the office hours. The earlier it is implemented, the better it is for commuters who otherwise have to walk to reach their destination.
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