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Parking bays are not car parks, says Bulawayo Mayor

by Staff reporter
27 Mar 2022 at 06:31hrs | Views
BUSINESSES in the Bulawayo Central Business District (CBD) have been encouraged to take up pre-paid car parking for their customers and staff, which the local authority says is much cheaper compared to hourly parking fees.

The Bulawayo City Council and Tendy Three Investments (TTI) have received a backlash from residents after their car parking management system was introduced in February. Parking is pegged at US$1 per hour, payable using the local currency at the official exchange rate, across the city centre.

The local authority was forced to cancel the US$1 per 30 minutes charge in prime parking zones because of protests from residents and businesses.

However, there has been a boycott of areas where the system is already in use, resulting in businesses complaining of loss of revenue as potential customers are now shunning the areas.

Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni said they noted that there was a need for the local authority to engage motorists and business owners to make them understand that parking bays were not to be considered as car parks. No one is expected to use a parking bay all day, he said.

"Our buildings are designed such that there is onsite parking for tenants and users of the buildings. We also have always had a policy where employers and business people reserve parking bays in front of their premises for their staff and customers.

Mind you, prepaid bays are at a discounted rate and one can actually pay and ensure that staff and customers are not inconvenienced.

"It's something that we think we need to engage on and make business people and motorists understand that a parking bay is not a car park or parkade centre," said Clr Mguni.

He said over the years it has become difficult to drive into town and find a parking bay at prime areas in the CBD hence they believed that by the time they roll out the project across the 7600 bays, they will be able to decongest the city centre.

"Bulawayo will never be the same again. Ultimately our residents will be proud of us. Of course we are a listening council which subscribes to the values of consultation.

Remember when we started we were at US$1 or RTGS equivalent at the official bank rate of $120 per 30 minutes. "Which if you take into account the parallel market rate of $260, the motorists are already paying 50 cents per hour. But all is not lost. This city belongs to the people of Bulawayo and their opinions matter," said the Mayor.

Regarding the public outcry on the parking fees, Clr Mguni said residents must understand that the city needed the system so as to deal with a number of issues which include criminal elements that were taking place within the parking bays.

"Of course we are aware of the outcry. Just like in any new project, there will be outcry. It's not easy to embrace change. We needed this parking management system to deal with a lot of criminal activities that were happening in parking bays. Illegal vending, car washing, sexual activities in cars and motor vehicle repairs on parking bays. It was terrible.

"We had to ensure that we enforce by-laws and bring sanity to the city. You will see a lot of improvements once we bring on board surveillance and cameras to do real time monitoring of these vices. Bulawayo must remain a smart and transformative city. We will definitely achieve this vision by year 2024," he said.

He said parking was being paid for in the city in the past, albeit using the analogue system of physical booklets parking disks. Before that, parking bays had coin machines. Clr Mguni said what has changed is that council has automated the system to plug any leakages.

"This is in response to the outcry by residents that we must pursue other revenue streams, instead of relying on ratepayers and taxes.

However, as a listening council, we take note of the outcry and we will continue to engage motorists and users as we try to re-align their expectations and interests of the investing partner," said the Mayor.

On questions raised on the ratio of sharing of the revenue raised where TTI gets 70 percent and council 30 percent, Clr Mguni said in every business transaction when one invests in a project and puts up capital and equipment, they are expected to recoup investment over a certain period of time.

"Remember this is a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) project. We are business people in one way or the other, and there is no way one can be a project funder and get the same percentage with one who has just provided ground and worse in a case where one has to pay salaries of staff over the partnership period.

Residents must understand that after a period of six years, the project will be transferred to the city council at no cost and will be 100 percent wholly owned and run by the city.

During the project cycle lots of investment in Information Communication Technology infrastructure will happen and upgrading will be funded by our partner," he said.

South Africa's TTI invested US$2,2 million into the project.

Source - The Sunday News
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