Putting the Brakes on Seoul’s Illegal Parking Problem

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Putting the Brakes on Seoul’s Illegal Parking Problem

"I am unable to prevent illegal parking around Seun Mall. Drivers refuse to listen and I am forced to call the district parking supervisors," said an unidentified person from Seoul City‘s parking control team.

"It is very difficult to ticket vehicles when the drivers are in the vicinity,“ remarks a police source. “And if the ticket is blown from the windscreen and the driver therefore fails to show up at court, his or her driving license becomes invalid immediately. This seems excessive punishment for just a ticket."

"No one appears to be afraid of the district parking authorities,” says another Seoul official. “Tickets are useless. In the past, 70 percent of fines were paid. That figure has now dropped to around 30 percent."

Seoul will be swamped with illegally parked cars if the parking control system is not properly enforced. Cars are parked haphazardly all over: in front of stores, on the corners of large intersections, and even blocking the entrances to apartment buildings. The problem is worst downtown, where the administration limits the number of cars allowed to park. Meanwhile, pay parking lots are always empty.

The attempt by local authorities to solve the problem is obviously not working. The Seoul City office long ago gave up hopes of increasing parking lots downtown. Now it has resorted to painting more white parking-space lines in the back alleys.

Officials at the city’s district offices diverge in opinions on the best approach to illegal parking. "Impose extra fines for defaulted payments. Allow us to clamp vehicles for which fines have not been paid," argue some district chairpersons. But others hesitate when it comes to ticketing potential voters.

The police say that it would be impossible to give additional fines to those who delay payment or introduce vehicle clamps. All the while, the number of cars increases steadily while the number of parking lots stays the same.

Irrespective of the body responsible for parking surveillance, illegal parking must be prohibited. The authorities must get tough and hike the bill for those who delay making payments, as well as increasing the presence of parking inspectors. The public must understand that parking in the city always costs money. Drivers would then think twice about bringing their cars downtown and traffic jams would lessen. The problem cannot go unchecked. Seoul City and the police must cooperate to find the solution.

by Eum Song-jik

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