Lack of parking space putting shoppers away
KATHMANDU, June 3: New Road is losing its charm as a major shopping hub in Kathmandu Valley.
Traders and wholesalers at possibly the oldest business center in the Valley have seen fewer customers and sales in recent years.
With the expansion of cities out of Ring Road in recent years, shoppers now find it easy to visit shopping malls in the inner city as well as those outside the Ring Road.
Contraction in business has left shop owners in and around New Road worried. They say lack of parking space is the main reason that is pushing customers toward modern shopping complexes and malls.
Narendra Bahadur Shrestha, a retailer of sound system and other electronic products, says that he has stopped putting television and refrigerators on display as shoppers have moved toward modern malls. "Most of our customers use private vehicles for commuting. These days they don't find parking space in New Road area. There isn't even sufficient parking space for two-wheelers leave along cars," added Shrestha.
Bishal Bazaar, the first modern marketplace in New Road, is also getting fewer buyers.
Bishal Bazaar is one of the few buildings in New Road with parking facility.
"New Road and nearby market places are not much crowded like in the past. Customers have marts and shopping malls in their neighborhood itself," Dilip Jung Shah, company secretary of Bishal Bazaar Company Limited, said. He also said traders have seen their profit margin drop in recent years. "Bishal Bazaar, which was a prime shopping destination for Indian tourists some years ago, gets only few Indian tourists these days," he added.
New Road is too crowded and also dirtier these days compared to five years ago.
Business people here, however, are hopeful that the new mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City will do something to keep the city clean as well as manage parking space to revive this shopping district.
Amrit Manandhar, a wholesaler of CG Mobile products at Pako, said that customers still like to visit New Road to buy branded mobile sets. "But they cannot, because it is very difficult to find parking space. Mobile shops in new malls are getting visitors as they have ample parking space," Manandhar, who is also a former president of Pako Youth Club, said.
Parking problem in New Road has worsened further since Traffic Police enforced new parking rule about two months ago. As per the new rules, bikes can be parked only on one side of the road.
Culture Expert Satya Mohan Joshi, 97, told Republica that people from all over the Valley used to visit New Road for shopping. "New Road was very vibrant when I was young. Most of the businessmen were Marwaris," Joshi said, adding: "At that time, New Road was popular as a destination for buying imported goods."