Ahmedabad: Recently, I had attended a conference organised by Government of Singapore to recognise leading cities of the world on the basis of sustainability and livability. It is a matter of pride for all Amdavadis that their city was among the six finalist cities for the Lee Kuan Yew award, which eventually was won by New York City. I got an opportunity to see the excellent urban planning and the no-nonsense enforcement of rules to ensure high-quality life for its citizens.
What impressed me most in Singapore is their success in ensuring that the city roads are congestion free and safe for all kinds of road users, both motorised and non-motorised. Many Amdavadis visit Singapore often and would appreciate my views.
The Government has restricted number of private motorised vehicles that can run on the roads to nearly four lakh.
- Each registered vehicle is allowed to be road-worthy, strictly for 10 years.
- After that, it is the owner’s responsibility to dispose the vehicle. Very often it is a distress sale, sometimes by even paying around 500 Singapore dollars.
Whatever number of vehicles goes off the roads every year due to the 10-year restriction, an equal number of vehicles are allowed. This results in a long waiting period. Those who want to bring their car onto the road pay a hefty sum of nearly Rs25 lakh for a mid-sized sedan. Even for a basic hatchback like Maruti Alto, one has to pay nearly Rs7 lakh.
Another restrictive policy there is the congestion charges.
- To be able to ply on the city roads, particularly the busy roads, one is automatically debited congestion charges. This is a market-driven charge, which varies from peak to off peak hours.
- Similarly, no vehicle can be parked in any unauthorised place.
- Every building, commercial or residential, has to have a designated parking place.
- Or else, one has to park at public parking lots.
- Here also the parking tariff is market-driven and normally a minimum of one dollar per hour during non-peak to four dollars per hour during peak period is charged.
Due to such stringent norms,
- there are no old polluting vehicles on the roads.
- A very high percentage of the population depends on public transport for commuting.
- One can not see any unauthorised parking anywhere in Singapore.
- People use footpaths and the cycle tracks with freedom and dignity.
- Private vehicle owners are made to realise that the state is not going to allow free parking or preferential right to use the roads.
How does it compare with the Indian cities? Can we ever hope to emulate the Singapore model in Indian cities, even to a limited extent? Hopefully, someday.
* Related New * :
- Ahmedabad receives Special Mention in Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2012.