MG Road businesses hit by 'thoughtless' parking ban

MG Road businesses hit by 'thoughtless' parking ban

High and dry

The parking ban on MG Road came into force on June 16. DH FILE PHOTO

A month after the Bangalore Traffic Police banned parking on MG Road, the commercial establishments, regardless of the nature of their businesses, have been left high and dry.

The shops collectively witnessed not only a sharp decline in the footfall of customers but also spiralling losses. Shops have experienced an average of 60% decline in customers.

Nagsharan Shekhar of Vijaylakshmi Silks said the first week was horrible. “Retail was dead on this road. The ‘sale’ period has always been good for us, as customers find alternative spaces. But they should allow parking on MG Road.”

Now the whole stretch is experiencing a dip in business.

“People are avoiding this area,” remarked Soumya Dasgupta, the store manager at GKB Opticals.

“Customers are preferring huge malls with parking facilities,” said Tahir Ahmad Bazaz, the manager at Cottage Industries Emporium.

Manyavar manager Imran Ismail Sait told DH that new businesses without brand recognition and identity are suffering the most as customers opt for malls with safe parking, where they can do multiple things at once – shop, eat, watch movies or what have you.

“If this continues, many stores will vacate. Already four stores have shut down,” he added.

Several establishments complained they see no point in the parking ban. “We don’t see any change in MG Road traffic – it hasn’t increased or decreased. Surely, the inconvenience to the general public has increased,” said Chiranth Bhoopalam, partner at Soulspace Home Linen Store, in a sentiment echoed by several other traders.

“There is no public parking facility on MG Road or the Central Business District. People don’t mind paying a fee. But where is the place? This is not the MG Road I remember. I feel lost in my own city,” added Bhoopalam.

Moreover, the parking ban has made it difficult for the employees to commute to their workplaces. “Our staff have no place to park. They are paying fines daily from their own pockets,” said Usha S, the store manager at the World of Titan.

Meanwhile, there seems to be the ever-present crowding of auto-rickshaws that quote exorbitant fares. The managing director of Raj Diamonds, Eshwar Surana complained: “The changes has not been effective – we still see auto-rickshaws blocking the entrance to our store.”

“Police should take strict action on auto drivers who block the circle, creating a nuisance,” added the director of Deepam Silks, M Vijayashekar.

The identity of MG Road, historically a culture and heritage centre, is gradually fading due to incompetency, according to Anand C, the store manager at Higginbothams, one of the oldest and iconic bookstores in Bengaluru.

“They have not planned anything. Even the owners have no place to park. MG road is not just a business hub, it is a heritage spot of historical importance,” he said.

Natesan’s Antiqarts chief manager V Kumar said the worst thing is there is no help at hand. “We have gone to the MLA and the commissioner. They say, ‘bear with us, it is for your own development.’ If they ban parking, they should provide an alternative. There is so much space in the army land. Nobody takes initiative. Everybody is helpless.”