Solving the parking problem

My dear Billy, Suppose the gatekeeper at the other world allows you to come down to earth for a day, and you land in Mauritius.


The first impression that you would have is that Mauritius is a very rich country indeed, judging from the number of cars on the roads. But that would be an erroneous conclusion and an impression only, because Mauritius is a poor country of rich people.

Indeed, my dear Billy, from a beautiful country of rainbows and shooting stars, Mauritius has become a drab racecourse for cars and drivers. From a model which God used for creating paradise, this place has turned into a hecatomb for brave citizens who perish in car accidents every day of the year.

Driving in Mauritius is never a pleasure but a daily ordeal in which you have to inch your way through unending traffic jams that besiege the roads. And I am not here talking about the so-called drivers who give the impression that their licence gives them the right to kill rather than to drive.

The biggest problem, however, is to find a place to park your silly car, especially in Port-Louis. Not that the authorities don’t show any concern. On the contrary, they even seem to be over concerned, and they come up with a semblance of “solution” once in a moon of a bluish colour.

One of these solutions was to decree a number of “No Parking” and “No Waiting” zones in all the streets of Port Louis. That was done with the express purpose of eradicating the parking problem from the root.

But you see, my dear Billy, the wind cannot read. Nor can the cars. And so, all the No Parking, No Waiting, No Tarrying, No Love-Making zones and others of the kind, are always invaded by the cars.

Then they came up with another bright idea. And I must tell you here that the one commodity that the Mauritian species does not lack is bright ideas. They may be wanting in so many other ways and fields, but they always have a very rich supply of ideas of all sorts: bright, good, inventive, creative, fertile, ingenious, and resourceful and many others.

And so, as I was telling you, one fine Friday at noon they came up with the unbeatable idea of making you pay if you really wanted to park your car on the street. However, that was not a very original idea per se, my dear Billy. Because, primo, this practice is in use in other “civilized” societies, and secundo, this idea of paying for whatever you do is quite current even in Mauritius.

You throw, you pay, don’t you? You spit, you pay. You make love with inmate of the Company’s Garden, you pay. You watch, a rubbish movie, you pay. You buy a pirated CD from a marchand ambulant, (hawker), you pay. So what’s wrong if they make you pay if you park your car?

But the pay-and-park measure didn’t bring the expected results either. This didn’t deter the cars from parking themselves as best they could on either side of the narrow Port-Louis roads. However, it had the merit of bringing a few additional rupees to the state coffers. And as they in French, “l’appetit vient en mangeant”, or eating whets the appetite, so they sensibly increased the parking rate in order to obtain more additions for the public coffers.

And this business has in the long run proved to be so lucrative, my dear Billy, that they are now seriously envisaging a further increase, always with the avowed, ostentatious vow of curbing the parking problem. Several enterprising individuals have also joined fray by establishing private parkings. Thus the Luna Park that used to be a popular cinema hall has been pulled down and recycled into a parking lot. So have several other buildings.

But it must also be admitted that they have been all the time toying with a number of other ideas. And as usual in Mauritius, people from all walks of life and possessed with so many ideas, have also been sending their suggestions in writing and in print by the kind courtesy of an ever-obliging press, each telling the authorities what to do to solve the traffic jam, parking, and other problems.

In the meantime, while toying with the measures in another urgent bid to solve the parking problems, they have driven the hawkers from the streets of Port Louis. They have also surfed around to catch hold of parking and traffic jam experts to come here to study and report on the situation.

Among the free suggestions provided locally, there was one to the effect that no vehicle having attained that age of puberty should be allowed to enter the virgin city. Another one claimed that the vehicles should be allowed to enter Port Louis on alternate days, i.e. those with even numbers on one day and those with odd numbers on the other day. Of course, all these suggestions are not worth trying, because as you yourself once said, my dear Billy, “Good reasons must of force give place to better”. And I have a better one to propose. This measure is based on scientific research and is being advanced after careful consideration. And it is very simple and easy to enforce too, and should meet the unanimous approval of all the Mauritian patriots.

My submission is simply this. It has been observed that on certain festival days which are not public holidays, the traffic flows like pure water under the bridge and parking on the streets of Port Louis is plentiful as those celebrating these festivals are elsewhere.

Bearing this scientific observation in mind, and considering the fact that this principle has been made to work in various other sectors, entry into Port Louis should be made on the basis of the community of the car.

Thus, entry should be restricted, and forbidden on each day of the week to one of the following: Hindu, Muslim, Creole, Chinese, all others. However, to make it still more scientific, and so that it does not send all sorts of pseudo socio-cultural, “justice” seeking mushroom organizations on the warpath, the operation could be made to extend over a ten-day period as follows: High Caste Hindus, Vaishs, Raviveds and Rajputs, Creoles, Muslims, Chinese, Tamils, Telegus, Marathis, All Others.

One specific day should be set aside for each of the above cars not to enter the streets of Port Louis. Do you have a better solution for our traffic and parking problems, my dear Billy?”


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