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Onna Village tackles parking bottlenecks

Date Posted: 2006-06-30

Cape Maeda has a parking problem, and Onna Village is “asking everybody to understand we have to solve it.”

The popular island cape is known for its spectacular view, as well as its diving and snorkeling opportunities. Area farmers aren’t pleased though, because there is no place for them to park as they come to work, and are demanding Onna Village fix the problem.

Dive shops, in an effort to reduce their operating costs, have begun encouraging dive tourists to rent cars and drive to Cape Maeda instead of running shuttle busses. They’ve told customers to get to the Cape early in the morning to be sure of a parking space, a move that ties up the available parking typically for the full day.

Onna Village officials recognize the problem, and have decided to create a paid parking area in what has traditionally been a free parking area. Construction will begin by October.

Reactions are mixed, with shop owners who’ve been plying their wares on the land illegally since 1975 now complaining the new parking lot will force them out of business. The land has always been owned by Onna Village, but nobody enforced the rules about private enterprise operating on that property.

“When the new parking lot comes, I don’t have space to open my booth,” declared one squatter. “What shall I do?”

Others say “It’s good.” Dive shop owners have mixed feelings too, because it will increase the costs being levied on their customers. They are pointing to other dive spots such as Cape Zampa as areas where parking is free. Cape Hedo and Manza-Mou and other west coast beaches and state owned parks offer free parking, and government officials say there are no plans to begin charging for parking.

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