A local lawyer is suing the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and Tendy Three Investments (TTI) over the cost of parking in the city centre.
Motorists who park in the city centre pay US$1 per hour and even if they park for a lesser period the fee remains the same.
Bruce Masamvu of Masamvu and Da Silva-Gustavo Law Chambers argues these are administrative failures, which are against the motorists’ interests, as both BCC and TTI have failed to explain their reasons to the public
On February 18, 2022, BCC and TTI introduced and commenced the parking management system in Bulawayo, under a Build and Operate Transfer facility.
Relevant to Masamvu’s application is that on March 18, 2022, BCC Town Clerk, Christopher Dube, published a notice that on March 21, 2022, parking at the Central Business District will attract a fee of US$1 for each parking bay or zone.
In a High Court application filed on August 2, 2022, Masamvu wants the BCC, the first respondent and TTI, the second respondent, within seven days to supply written reasons for their administrative actions.
Masamvu, a registered owner of a vehicle, who particularly parks his vehicle along 8th Avenue or at the corner of JMN Nkomo Street next to his place of work at Stanbic Building, said he had written to the two entities on June 28, 2022, but they failed to respond.
“Yet they subjected me to administrative action that I consider adverse to my interest and or legitimate exceptions in so far as parking fees are concerned,” he said.
Masamvu explained that on June 27, 2022, TTI made out a notice of unpaid parking fees to him with reference number 265847624, where he purportedly owes US$11.
“On July 11, 2022, a further notice bearing reference number same as the previous one was made out to him for unpaid parking fees totalling US$12,” he said but observed that the unpaid parking fees he purportedly owes are for the dates between April 26, 2022, and July 1, 2022.
“Importantly I further noted that for every portion which did not constitute an hour, I was charged US$1. However, this charging regime was never communicated to me through a notice from the town clerk on March 18, 2022, which revised the parking fees regime chargeable for each bay for every hour, that is US$1 for every hour,” he said.
He noted that TTI’s parking devices have been programmed such that each portion of time which does not constitute an hour is rounded upwards to an hour.
“As an example, on June 30, 2022, I parked my vehicle in number Q52 at 9.53 am. At 11.02 am before removing my vehicle I purchased a ticket for the time my vehicle was in bay Q52 that is an hour and nine minutes. However, this Honourable court will note that my ticket provides “park time paid until 11.53.”
Masamvu said TTI proceeded to charge him US$2 as though he had parked for two hours.
“The same scenario is apparent on the ticket I purchased on July 6, 2022. On this day I parked my vehicle into bay Q52 at 14.06 pm and purchased my ticket at 16.03 pm. That notwithstanding, the ticket reflects that I had parked my vehicle until 16:06 pm to enable TTI to charge me for two hours parking, yet I had only parked for an hour and 57 minutes,” he said.
This prompted him to write to BCC and TTI on June 28, 2022.
“In this letter, I requested from both respondents as they are cooperating to manage the parking spaces in Bulawayo written reasons for inter alia an explanation for charging me US$1 as parking fees for periods which do not constitute an hour,” Masamvu said.
But Masamvu argues that his request for reasons remains unacknowledged, unanswered and has taken unreasonably long considering the elementary nature of his inquiry.
It is against this background that Masamvu requests the Bulawayo High Court to compel both BCC and TTI to supply written reasons for their administrative actions.
“Although there is no time frame within which these reasons were to be supplied, I submit that the passage of over a calendar month is an unreasonable delay between a request for written reasons and their being delivered,” he said.
Masamvu is also certain that by March 18, 2022, when the notice by the town clerk was published both BCC and TTI “obviously had sat down jointly and or independently to reconsider their parking fee pricing regime.”
“Consequently, the respondents ought to have supplied the reasons by now or at the very least, acknowledged my requests and advised me of a tentative timeline within which the reasons were to be delivered,” he said.
The lawyer also wants BCC and TTI to pay the costs of the legal suit.