The Harare City Council has increased clamping and tow-away fees for illegally parked vehicles and those that violate the city’s traffic regulations from US$112 to US$423 in the 2014 budget. The proposal, which was passed by the council last week, now awaits approval by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr Ignatius Chombo.
Council spokesman Leslie Gwindi said the provisions for traffic violations have been made stringent to prevent accidents and restore sanity in the central business district.
“The fees are punitive enough to make the people adhere to city traffic requirements and also to enforce the by-laws,” he said.
“This will bring sanity to the city and people will learn to park their vehicles properly.”
Currently, the city charges US$57 for wheel clamping of small vehicles and US$80 for kombis while the tow-away charges stand at US$112 for light vehicles and US$132 for kombis. The amended Harare (Clamping and Tow-Away) By-Laws 2013 would come into force once the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Dr Chombo approves the new regulations and the by-laws gazette.
Mr Gwindi said the council was fully prepared to crack down on parking offenders.
“We have increased the number of patrolling traffic officers around the city and we are prepared to control the traffic,” he said.
The city is expecting to raise US$5,4 million from clamping and towing out of its projected US$364 million 2014 budget.
The city plans to increase its fleet that operates the city to 20 vehicles to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the clampdown on traffic offenders.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba denounced the hefty fines as punitive and inconsiderate.
“The City of Harare has once again demonstrated that it has no willingness to learn from its failed policies,” he said.
“It is clear that the elected councillors of Harare have not applied their minds to this, leaving the task to come up with strategies of taming traffic congestion to senior council management, who have no idea what it means to part with money.”
He accused the council of being insensitive saying the decision to increase tow-away fees was unreasonable, unjustified and would only serve to increase the negative sentiments towards everything associated with the council.
“The measure is ill-advised, dull and demonstrates lack of creativity on the part of council,” Shumba said. “They have only attempted to address symptoms of a planning crisis, but have not attempted to deal with the core issue — the parking space and large holding bays for commuter omnibuses.”
The council, he said, must be cracking to facilitate engagements with urban planners, business, Central Government, transporters and other stakeholders who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
He said the council should have considered other experiences from the Sadc region to come up with a lasting solution to the problem.