Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Motorists in Harare’s central business district (CBD) on Tuesday fumed as City Parking scrapped the option of paying for 30 minutes for parking, introduced recently to cater for those who needed to park just to dash into a single office or shop.
This came as the new parking fees of $20 an hour took effect. However, motorists felt the scrapping of the option to park for 30 minutes disadvantaged those doing quick errands in town.
Lower parking costs that used to be enjoyed by those parking on the city centre’s peripheries have also been scrapped.
Motorists expressed outrage over changes introduced by City Parking at a time when many citizens are battling with loss of revenue due to the lockdown.
Some of the people expressed their displeasure on City Parking’s social media platforms.
A motorist, Mr Alexandra Moyo, said: “Imagine someone, who has to conduct business for less than 20 minutes, being forced to pay for an hour. That is unfair.”
Miss Sheila Marange said: “Every business is now chasing the new $20 note coming in June, very bad thinking. Zimbabweans we are our own enemy for sure. They are hitting us from all sides. They must give a 30-minute option,” posted one @tidzo on Twitter.
Another one, @libbsnyaguse also queried: “. . . what happened to the Government statute regarding price freezes during pre-lockdown period?”
City Parking said the new parking fee was necessary for the company to meet “increased operational and administration costs” due the obtaining inflationary environment.
The firm’s public relations manager, Mr Francis Mandaza, said the 30 minutes parking option was removed after realising that motorists were being clamped after expiry of the time paid for.
“Besides, it was necessary to implement a uniform tariff and uniform system to avoid confusing customers,” he said. Few customers say they were confused and most using the short-time option were aware of the limit and were back in their cars before the 30 minutes were up. In addition, City Parking has a mobile self-service application, ParkAssist, which allows motorists to pay parking fees from wherever they are without physically engaging parking marshals. This would allow a person dashing into a bank and finding a long queue able to top their parking charge without losing their place.
The application, which is available on Google playstore, has a facility that alerts motorists when a ticket is about to expire so that they top-up without having to interrupt their activities.
Many cities around the world use high parking charges as a way to reduce congestion, hoping motorists will either not enter the city centre at all or use public transport. Harare has admitted it uses the cash-flow from parking, after paying the parking staff, to subsidise its rate account since most residents are in arrears.