Council and partner must review parking fee

The Chronicle

US$1 just to park your vehicle in Bulawayo’s busiest zone for 30 minutes, or US$2 for an hour is too steep. It is a punishment. It is as if driving one’s vehicle and having to park it in the city centre has suddenly become criminal and you are fined for that.

Bulawayo City Council (BCC), in partnership with Tendy Three International (TTI) introduced a new parking system yesterday, replacing the old one managed by the local authority.

It started in Zone One, which covers Leopold Takawira Avenue to 11th Avenue and Fife Street to Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street, the busiest area in the city where you find most banks, the biggest supermarkets, furniture and clothing chains.

Soon, the partnership will put Zone Two online. There, motorists will be paying US$1 to park for an hour. That area has not been determined but it must ordinarily be the immediate streets round the first zone.

The parking fees are pegged in US$. This means that clients can pay in that currency or local currency at the prevailing auction rate, US$1: ZW$120 this week. Therefore, parking fees for eight working hours a day works out to US$16 or equivalent in other currencies.

Motorists in the city, as we report elsewhere today, responded yesterday by avoiding Zone One and demanding that council reduces the charge. Some were actually angered by the fee. “You will be left alone on this street,” one, driving slowly by, shouted at the marshals on Jason Moyo Street.

“We are moving away to park our cars elsewhere. We can’t be giving you money while we are hungry citizens. If you implement the system on all streets then all of us will start walking. We can’t be scammed like this. This is daylight robbery.”

Bulawayo United Residents’ Association chairperson Mr Winos Dube said council did not consult them before launching the parking system and demanded that it be parked. “Our salaries do not match the cost of parking,” he said.

“The city council must revisit this thing and reduce the cost. The cost is really unfair on the residents. They should have considered our salaries. This defies logic.

“As residents we are going to object, this parking system caught us unaware, we were not consulted by anyone. We have read that the council is saying it consulted stakeholders, which stakeholders did they consult?

“The new parking system must go. It will be difficult for motorists to do business in the city centre, employees will suffer. Where will they park their cars from 8AM to 5PM?”

We agree with the objections against the charge. It is indeed too high so must be reconsidered immediately. We commend motorists for responding in the manner they did, by just avoiding what has become the danger zone in the city, and parking their vehicles elsewhere.

At this time, shunning the area makes sense, but let us remember that the system is being expanded to cover the whole or most of the city.

This means that parking further away from the inner city will be unsustainable in the medium to long term.  For that reason motorists and residents’ associations need to formally approach council and its partner, not to demand a scrapping of the parking system, but a reduction in the charge.

In our view, US$1 for an hour in Zone One is reasonable. We want a win-win situation in the end, BCC and its partner getting a return on their investment in the gadgets that we see marshals enthusiastically brandishing at every passing motorist, the other gadgets we see implanted down in parking bays, the new road markings and so on.

Motorists must, on the other hand, be able to afford the fees.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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