THIS month the City of Harare hiked parking fees by 100 percent, citing an increase in operational costs. The Daily News on Sunday’s Helen Kadirire sat down for an interview with City Parking spokesperson Francis Mandaza to hear more about his development which has infuriated motorists.
Q: Please explain the hike in parking fees from $1 to $2?
A: While parking fee tariffs have been increased, we will not be charging per hour as we had done in the past. We are going to be charging per 30 minutes.
The reason for this is that we want to cushion those who park for less. For those who do not do much business in the city centre, they will pay less, so that is why we had to change the billing. It is not that motorists had complained but we are socially sensitive. We did not want to charge a flat fee of $2 per hour. If people want to park for 30 minutes, you pay $1 and if you want to park for 15 minutes, you pay 50 cents.
Q: What if you had outstanding or unpaid parking fees?
A: If you have unpaid parking fees that accrued when we were still paying $1 per hour, we will still collect them as is. We will not change the parking fees in retrospect.
Q: What research did you conduct to arrive at the new parking tariffs?
A: When we set these parking tariffs, we do research from other countries in the region and our recent survey shows that our parking in Harare is at par or at least in the region of most Sadc cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and Lusaka, Zambia. The tariff that we are charging here is equivalent to what South Africa is charging, which is between nine rand and 10 rand.
Q: Motorists fear that arrears from the previous tariff regime may be charged under the new tariff structure.
A: We have not finished installation of the enhanced bay sensor system but if you pay a dollar or whatever amount, it is valid wherever you park within the time limit. There is no confusion there. If you park where there are sensors you can still use the same ticket in bays where there are no sensors.
Q: How many parking lots and parkades does City Parking have and how are they managed?
A: We have four parking spaces — two parkades and two parking lots that are spread across town. The spaces are safe, reliable and ideal for those who want to park for long durations. They cost $80 per month for unlimited parking time. These parkades and lots collect maximum revenue from the motorists as we have controlled entry and exit points. We also have prepaid parking cards which are sold for $10 — $5 is preloaded parking time. The cards can be loaded with the amount of choice by a motorist and they can use it in bays with sensors or to tap and go on a marshal’s device.
Q: Will City Parking increase parking bays in the city?
A: We are going to be adding more parking bays and that is in our medium to long term plan, albeit not on street bays but in the form of parkades and the rotary parking system to increase our capacity.
The rotary parking system is the new technology that is being used in developed countries and being adopted by developing nations like ourselves, where a small space can host a number of vehicles either through high-rise buildings or the creation of basement. The specific technology uses the pulley system to lift vehicles up the floor or down. At the moment it is still a concept we are working and cannot fully divulge intricate details of costs and funding.
Q: Motorists complain about the clamping and towing away of their vehicles. It seems motorists are under threat of constantly having their vehicles clamped and towed away for arrears they did not accumulate?
A: Motorists need to understand unequivocally that City Parking is not in the business of clamping and towing away vehicles — that is the city traffic enforcement department under Harare City Council. Council is the one that is charged with that responsibility and what they are trying to do is enhance the compliance and sanity on our streets.
There are motorists who double-park and also park on pavements and that is not ideal especially for a capital city that is aspiring to be a World Class city.
There has to be some compliance and semblance of order. Motorists have to understand that no council traffic enforcer is allowed to clamp their vehicle without a parking marshal present.
This is done to avoid any misunderstandings.
Q: What plans does City Parking have to grow the business and provide quality services to motorists?
A: In the long term we want to increase our capacity in terms of the number of bays available in the city and we also want to go entirely cashless in our transactions. We want to make it convenient for motorists to pay so we are going to either transact by mobile phone or through the use of our mobile application which we will be launching soon. They can just upload parking time wherever they are without the need for cash. We think that will improve efficiency and customer service.