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Moves to relax Bulawayo parking conditions

by Staff reporter
27 Feb 2022 at 07:31hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and its vehicle parking management system partner are considering relaxing parking fees conditions by developing a prepaid payment card that will allow motorists to pay for the exact period they parked for.

In the setup underway, motorists are paying US$1 for 30 minutes in the prime parking zone and US$1 for one hour in the ordinary parking zone.

Even if a motorist parks for few minutes, they are required to pay the fixed charge for the said zone.

The new parking management system that is being implemented by the local authority in partnership with Tendy Three Investments (TTI) has been met with mixed feelings since it was introduced a couple of weeks ago with motorists and residents arguing that the charges were beyond the reach of many.

Speaking during a residents engagement meeting organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) last Thursday, the city parking project manager, Mr Vusisizwe Sibanda said while for now the set parking conditions and fees will stand, the more flexible prepaid cards will be introduced at a later stage.

"For now we have established zone one which is the prime parking in the city and soon we will have zone two which will be operating with the set charges, which is basically what the city has been charging all along, but most motorists have been neglecting to pay these charges.

In the future we will be rolling out prepaid cards that will be more flexible, as when you park it will be deducting for the exact minutes that you parked for.

For example if you park for 10 minutes you pay for the 10 minutes," said Mr Sibanda.

He said through the parking management system they wanted to, among other issues, rid the city of car vendors that parked in front of stores, diverting would-be customers to their cars, not respecting the fact that  shops were paying rentals and taxes to Government and the local authority.

"We are managing parking in the city, there is supposed to be order and sanity in the city centre.

We want to increase security within the city centre, if a marshal is there looking at 20 bays it will reduce crime and stealing.

We also want to manage traffic and decongestion in the Central Business District (CBD) because if motorists are left to do as they wish in the CBD there will end up being traffic jams.

On another positive, from the 7 200 bays, each marshal will be given the mandate over 20 bays, meaning that it will create employment for 400 marshals," said Mr Sibanda.

He said it was not true that residents were not consulted, revealing that residents had endorsed the project and the charges on 17 September last year at the Large City Hall.

"Money generated from the streets will be reinvested, going back to fix the roads.

We will ring fence funds realised here, so that they can benefit the citizens.

Our investor is coming in with US$2,2 million which they are channelling into this project.

Some of the equipment they are bringing in are the sensors, terminals and printers for the marshals, towing vehicles, Closed Circuit Televisions to be installed so as to enhance security and the software that is required so as to operate this system," said Mr Sibanda.

Relating to the availability of free parking zones in the city, the project manager revealed that the only free parking zone was at the periphery of the city centre.

"For now the free parking space will be available outside the parking area which has been marked as between third and 15th Avenue and Lobengula and Samuel Parirenyatwa Street.

Areas outside those zones will be the ones that won't be charging," he said.

According to BCC the parking system will be in operation from Monday to Friday between 8am and 5pm and Saturdays 9am to 1pm, on Sundays and public holidays it will not be operational.

TTI won the bid to implement the system in July 2020 and got the green light from Cabinet for them to start operations in August last year after council had submitted their documents to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida).

Meanwhile, Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) in Bulawayo have called upon the local authority to review downwards the parking fees.

Speaking at the same meeting, representatives of organisations said the parking management system was not done in a proper manner.

Mr Rodwin Sibanda of Habakkuk Trust said the rates were exorbitant for motorists who earn  low salaries.

"Some of the amounts being charged here are equivalent to those being charged in other countries and in those countries its fair as the money allows them for such budgets, while here in Zimbabwe it's a different scenario as we earn very low salaries," said Mr Sibanda.

Mr Nkosikhona Dibiti of Community Podium argued that the system being employed would not yield the desired results as the council was decongesting part of the city while congesting the other, where motorists will not be required to pay for parking.

He said the system will drive informal traders out of the city centre and this will lead to the rise of criminal activities as people look for alternative ways of making a living.

"The money being charged for parking is only affordable to money changers as they have no fixed rentals.

Entrepreneurs and formally employed workers cannot afford to pay this amount as the parking fees are very exorbitant," said Mr Dibiti.

Source - The Sunday News