CITY Hall on Thursday began charging motorists up to 20,000 riels (US$4.80) to park on the kerb along a small section of Charles de Gaulle Boulevard in Prampi Makara district, kicking off a one-week experiment that, if successful, could be expanded throughout the city in an attempt to reclaim pavement for pedestrians, officials said.
Customers visiting shops along the 120-metre stretch, located between Streets 107 and 109, will be allowed to park cars and motorbikes along the roadside for free for up to one hour, said deputy municipal traffic police chief El Narin, who led Thursday’s operation.
Those driving motorbikes will be charged 500 riels if they park for between one and two hours, 2,000 riels if they park for between two and four hours, and 10,000 riels if they park for longer than four hours.
Steeper charges await car-drivers, who will be forced to pay 20,000 riels if they park for between one and two hours. Any cars left along the road for longer than two hours will be towed, El Narin said.
A notice dated May 25 says the point of the exercise, which runs through June 2, is to reduce the number of vehicles along Charles de Gaulle and discourage “anarchic parking”. Fees are being collected by Sky Security Service.
Masato Koto, an urban planning consultant for the city who dreamed up the scheme, said his long-term vision was to restrict roadside parking along major thoroughfares to designated areas while imposing charges to drive down demand. By doing so, he said, officials could make Phnom Penh more pedestrian-friendly.
“In other countries, sidewalks are only for pedestrians,” he said. “But Cambodia is different. Here sidewalks are for parking cars, so we have to change this characteristic.”
El Narin emphasised that it is just an experiment, and that some components of the system would likely be altered before officials move to expand
it or make it permanent.
The charge of 20,000 riels for car-drivers, he said, was “too high”, a view that was echoed by a handful of motorists and shop owners interviewed Thursday.
Masato acknowledged that the charges had drawn criticism, but said they needed to be high in order to effectively deter parking.
“If the cost is high, then people will no longer want to park here. That’s the point,” he said.
“The number of cars is increasing every day, but the land in the city is limited, so we have to control the demand for parking.”