Motorists in Bulawayo have rejected the exorbitant parking fees introduced by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and implored the local authority to revise them downwards.
BCC entered into a partnership with Tendy Three Investments (TTI) in August last year after Cabinet approved the US$2.2 million vehicle parking management system deal, which was earmarked to run for a period of six years with an option to be extended for a further four years.
Tendy Three investment noted Bulawayo could earn approximately between US$1.1 million and US$1.5 million in revenue, which can be used to rehabilitate the city’s poor road network.
This week, Tendy Three parking marshals were seen in the city centre, setting up their infrastructure and informing motorists of the parking fees that come into effect on February 18, 2022.
The fees are as follows: for 30 minutes parking, one pays US$1, one hour will be US$2, two hours will go for US$4 and a full day’s parking will cost US$16.
But residents and motorists said these parking fees are too steep, especially after calculating how much one would pay a month on parking alone.
“The charges are expensive considering that you may park in a spot thinking you won’t take more than 30 minutes but your errands may take longer than expected. If you park for more than 30 minutes throughout the day, where will one get that money from,” asked Tatenda Ruvengo, a taxi driver.
Ruvengo suggested that perhaps the city council revise the charges to US$1 or US$2 per day.
“As a driver, you don’t park in one spot the whole day. You park here and move from point A to B and we are told there will be different parking bays that have separate charges,” he said.
A female motorist who identified herself as Mrs S Ncube noted that BCC should have at least set the parking fees in local currency as some workers earned in RTGS.
“I have been resident here in Bulawayo for a long time. Today as I parked my car, I saw the parking marshals and when I asked about their job, they told me of very high fees. They also charge US dollars, which is hard to source for some of us,” she said.
“Why doesn’t the city council charge in local currency and possibly revise the fees down. Sometimes you can even leave the parking spot earlier than what you paid for, so what will happen when you have paid for a full hour.”
Ncube advised the local authority to engage residents so that both could come up with a favourable position.
Another driver, Onias Mubura concurred BCC must reduce the parking fees to US$1 a day and noted that the old parking charges were reasonable.
“I could park the whole day at different spots using the same disc until I complete my errands. I think the parking must be a dollar per day because you don’t just park in one spot where I would be forced to pay another dollar. BCC must consider our plight because the situation is tight,” he said.
One Tendy Three parking marshal, who spoke on condition of anonymity said “companies, whose workers spent a full day at work, could communicate with the council and the company on a workable arrangement but for individuals, they must pay.”
BCC’s Corporate Communications manager claimed the council did hold a stakeholder’s consultative meeting on September 17, 2021, at the Large City Hall on the parking management system.
“The engagement was held with various stakeholders who included the business community, non-governmental organisations, local leadership, transport sector, informal sector, media and residents’ associations among others,” she said.
She added there is a difference between a parking bay and a parkade.
“Parkades were or are constructed to accommodate longer parking times. A parking bay is for customers and as such should not be a permanent parking spot. This is to free the parking bay for clients or customers going into a building or shop. It is not anticipated that one must occupy the parking bay for a full day,” she said.