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Parking fees too high for Bulawayo'

by Staff reporter
07 Sep 2022 at 06:40hrs | Views
BULAWAYO businesses and residents associations have insisted that fees under the new parking system implemented by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in partnership with the privately-owned company Tendy Three Investments (TTI) are exorbitant.

This was said during a dialogue hosted by the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PPRIZ) in collaboration with other non-governmental organisations at a Bulawayo hotel on Friday night that sought to tackle the implications of the new parking system.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents' Association (BPRA), Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), BCC, TTI, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Simbisa Brands and researchers attended the indaba.

Participants noted that the high parking fees are now affecting businesses in the central business district (CBD).

Professor Reinford Khumalo, a researcher on public policy who wrote a paper on the parking system, began the conversation by stating that while the city needs to charge for parking services, the US$1 parking cost per hour is excessive for Bulawayo.

Mr Mduduzi Ncube from ZNCC said BCC did not consult businesses when implementing the fee. "The concerns from business are that BCC and TTI did not consult the business sector when they were making up the pricing system, which has proved to be an additional transaction cost. All along BCC used to consult stakeholders on new developments. For example, in December, the 8th Avenue annual street mall stakeholders used to be engaged by BCC but this time around we weren't called for this meeting which is claimed to have taken place.

"This has affected business and the price of transactions that the business might be wanting to transact at a particular time. Tenants have fled from, for instance, First Mutual Life building at 10th Avenue, the Pioneer Building as well as the Old Mutual Building also by 8th Avenue. All those places have been left vacant as companies have resorted to situating themselves out of the central business district where customers are fleeing, to escape high parking fees. As a result, the business fraternity has been greatly affected," Mr Ncube said.

BVTA representative Mr Michael Ndiweni said BCC should consider the economic size of the city before pegging parking fees.

"We feel that the pricing for parking should be pegged according to the economic size of Bulawayo to see whether US$1 per hour is sustainable for the residents of the city. At the moment it seems as if people are being criminalised for owning cars by charging them very high fees.

"People have started going to the peripheries leaving the CBD deserted, this will someday result in the young people that are employed by TTI not being paid their salaries because there is no money generation when cars are no longer coming to the CBD.

"We ask that the fees be reconsidered to see whether there will be changes in the uptake of parking. I have been talking to people in the businesses complaining of losses since the new parking services began. The topic of decentralising has been overemphasised, Nkulumane Complex and Entumbane Complex are empty because businesses have moved to the CBD. The BCC should address these issues if they really want to decongest the CBD," said Mr Ndiweni.

Mr Thembelani Dube from BPRA said BCC should engage residents before signing contracts.

"As much as we appreciate the public-private partnerships we are worried about how these developments are brought to the people of Bulawayo. We have fears about the companies that are being brought in and the contracts that are being signed noting that we still have not seen much development in the Egodini project which is of similar nature. We are concerned that when you follow most of the contracts that BCC gets into there are no results. So, it becomes worrying if there is no wide consultation.

"With regards to TTI, we believe that if residents had been engaged in the drafting of fees, a figure that is sustainable for everyone would have been arrived at. If the residents had not made noise, maybe the prices would still be going for US$1 for 30 minutes. Also, if residents had not made some noise people would still be paying the same amount for every five minutes they park at a different location. Although some of our plights as residents are looked into, the US$1 per hour is still not sustainable," said Mr Dube.

He said there is a need for decentralising services from the CBD.

"There is a need for devolving services from the city centre if we are to speak of decongestion. Bulawayo is a multi-nuclear model hence there is no need for someone from Emakhandeni to come to the CBD to buy goods and services yet there is Entumbane Complex. These are the things BCC should look at when seeking to decongest the CBD rather than overcharging residents," Mr Dube said.

Mr Vusisizwe Sibanda, speaking on behalf of council, indicated that while parking pricing has not changed significantly, the effectiveness of fee collection has improved.

"We can all agree that the reason why people are crying now that parking is expensive is because of the more efficiency it has brought into the city. The 30-minute parking bays from 2009 have been going for US$0,76 which translated to US$1,52 for one hour but because the efficiency of collecting funds was not there, a lot of people did not feel that parking was costing that much. The booklet of 25 pages parking disc cost US$19 then.

"The new parking system costs US$1 per hour, if you were to go with the same pricing that was gazetted earlier, we would actually be paying more. The city has about 200 000 cars and the parking management implemented at full scale would be 7 200 bays, so when we look at it from that perspective you will realise that the number of cars in the city does not tally with the parking bays," he said.

Mr Sibanda said the main aim of the new parking system is to decongest the CBD.

"Buildings like LAPF House, Old Mutual, and Pioneer House we consider that each business now occupies one or two offices and if those people are all supposed to park on the street what it would mean is that all of their clients would have to look for somewhere else to park. One of the biggest aims why the system was implemented was to decongest so that we are able to manage the parking in such a manner that someone who goes to Edgars can find parking space at any time of the day.

"The situation that was prevailing within the city was that people would park their cars all day. This means that if 7 200 people park their cars all day, the bigger percentage, which is about 90 percent has no space to park their cars. This would often result in some people parking on the street which would make it difficult for motorists to move. As a city, we had to manage that because that is not the normal way," he said.

He said on-street parking was not planned for people who park for long hours but for customers.

"You will also discover that when this city was planned a lot of parking space was provided for particularly for businesses but these parking spaces are no longer used for what they were meant for. For example, at Haddon and Sly, the whole place which is behind is meant to be parking for people working in the building but because the owner has decided to make more money, they have leased the space for someone to do a car sale and other spaces are locked.

"Those parking spaces are the ones meant for long hours, on-street parking is not meant for long hours, it is meant for customers who buy and go. On-street parking is not a garage where someone can park the whole day. These are the things that most people are not privy to  — that for every 100 square metres there is a building parking," Mr Sibanda said.

TTI's managing director Bongani Nyathi said they heard the concerns of the people.

Source - The Chronicle
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