Rutendo Nyeve, Business Reporter
LISTED fast-food chain, Simbisa Brands, says it is losing about 30 percent of revenue due to loss of potential business linked to the contentious parking fees in Bulawayo’s city centre.
The company is one of the successful entities listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and is among the biggest employers in Bulawayo.
It operates popular brands such as Nando’s, Steers, Haefelis, Baker’s Inn, Pizza Inn, Creamy Inn and Chicken Inn.
The local authority, in partnership with South African company, Tendy Three Investments (TTI), launched the parking system last month but the move has been met with resistance as motorists shun the designated bays arguing that the charges are exorbitant.
Some residents have also questioned the benefit of the tender deal to Bulawayo’s development. Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has also criticised the city’s handling of the parking tender.
The reviewed parking fees have been pegged at US$1 or equivalent in local currency at the prevailing auction rate per hour and these have been extended to cover all parking bays in the whole of the city’s bays.
Initially the price was pegged at US$1 for 30 minutes.
In an interview with Chronicle Simbisa Brands managing director, Mr Warren Meares, said their outlets located along Jason Moyo, between 8th Avenue and Leopold Takawira have already suffered 25-30 percent revenue loss.
He also bemoaned lack of consultation by the local authority with the business community prior to the implementation of the new parking management system.
“Our main worry is that no consultation was done with business but we just saw the units being installed.
What was more alarming was the US$1 per hour, which entirely became detrimental to our business as we have lost between 25 – 30 percent of revenue on our outlets located along J. Moyo between 8th and L. Takawira,” said Mr Meares
He said while the local authority has recently reviewed downwards the fees, business expects them to be further reduced to at least US$0.50 per hour.
“I’m glad the rates have been relooked at, but I feel like US$0.50 per hour is more reasonable as an introductory fee.
If I’m coming for a meal, I now have to add an extra dollar on top of my meal price, which becomes detrimental to our business and affects prospective expansion plans for the city.”
Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial secretary for business development and liaison department, Brian Samuriwo, also said the council stance has become a hindrance to business development.
“We made a survey and interviews were made in the Bulawayo CBD. The business community observed that their sales have dropped by 60 percent in daily activities soon after council approved and allowed a private company to operate in the parking spaces, which is charging high fees,” he said.
“Bulawayo residents are not happy with these parking figures because of the current economy, which is still trying to grow.
“Despite the new tariffs, the City Council has not been considerate.
They should at least charge $1usd for 2hrs, looking at the public’s monthly earnings through the civil servants’ salaries, which should be used as a yard stick.”
He urged council to consider the public outcry and come up with more flexible and friendly rates and rentals policies that cushion residents from the prevailing economic challenges.
“Before reviewing the parking prices, the city council was supposed to make a proper survey at the same time engaging all the stakeholders who had their businesses affected by this initiative,” said Samuriwo.
The development comes at a time Bulawayo residents have handed over a petition challenging the new parking fees.
Under a six-year build, operate and transfer arrangement, the local authority will receive 30 percent of revenue, while TTI will take 70 percent.
With effect from Monday, 21 March 2022, the Central Business District has been designated into a single Zone of 1 hour/US$1 or at equivalent bank rate through EcoCash, POS or ZWL Cash.
This notification cancels the 30 mins US$1 Zone that was in place at the core of the city.”
Prior to the latest development, motorists were required to pay US$1 for the 30 minutes in the prime parking bays in Zone One, which stretches from Leopold Takawira Avenue to 11th Avenue and Fife Street to Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and US$1 for an hour in the ordinary parking bays.
Article Source: The Chronicle