Parking barons overrun Harare streets 

Source: Parking barons overrun Harare streets –Newsday Zimbabwe

A NETWORK of unregulated “parking barons” has overrun and seized control of many Harare streets with council losing millions of United States dollars in parking fees, NewsDay has learnt.

The rogue operators, with their brazen disregard for parking regulations and violent intimidatory tactics, are not only wreaking havoc in the central business district, but also bleeding the city’s already strained coffers.

The barons, who are making life unbearable for parking marshals, have also been accused of causing traffic congestion by haphazardly parking vehicles along vital thoroughfares, forcing motorists, pedestrians and even emergency services to navigate choked streets.

According to investigations by NewsDay in the past week, the parking barons charge amounts which are, however, less than the parking fees charged by City Parking marshals.

It also emerged that the parking barons sometimes work with unscrupulous City Parking marshals to swindle council of parking fees.

One of the illegal parking barons told NewsDay that they resorted to the streets due to the country’s high unemployment.

“There are no jobs, so we come here to try and earn a living. We help people find parking, keep an eye on their cars and direct traffic. Is (it) illegal?” the parking baron said .

Some of the parking barons own some bays along Harare’s busy roads including Nelson Mandela Avenue, George Silundika Avenue, Angwa Street, Jason Moyo Avenue, Robert Mugabe Avenue and Chinhoyi Street, among others.

In an interview, City Parking spokesperson Francis Mandaza said unregulated operators had created chaos in the city while calling for swift action from stakeholders.

City Parking, a subsidiary of the Harare City Council, raised US$3 million through parking fees this year.

“This is really a challenge in our city and we need to assist each other … The Zimbabwe Republic Police cannot man the streets full time so that they keep the parking bays safe,” he said.

“We have seen women being abused by these people. They threaten you or even cause harm so that you actually pay them for parking your car in that area. So, this is a problem that we all need to attend to. There have been some arrests made by police but the problem still persists.”

Mandaza also warned overzealous City Parking marshals who demand bribes from motorists.

“We want to warn our marshals who abuse motorists by demanding bribes, they will face the full wrath of the law,” he said.

“We have been doing some workshops educating them on how to treat motorists, we come from different backgrounds, but we have been trying to minimise such challenges.”

Harare City Council spokesperson Stanely Gama said council would carry out a blitz targeting parking barons.

“This week we are going to carry out a blitz targeting parking barons who have caused a mess in our city,” he said.