Motorists Angry Over City Parking Bills

Motorists Angry Over City Parking Bills
Published: 2016 August 02 04:11:00 (3226 Views)

Harare City council has ignited a storm after motorists are reportedly fuming over the chaotic clamping of vehicles by the council over City Parking billing.

Some Mortorists had their vehicles clamped without knowledge that they owe the parking authority.

Confusion reigns supreme in the widely denounced parking system, with some complaining that it was open to abuse by vindictive individual marshals who may maliciously log in registration numbers of motorists, who would not have parked in town, to settle personal scores.

Some marshals do not spend time on their work stations and motorists end up parking their vehicles without paying, only to return and find the wheels clamped. Machines used by the marshals are usually offline.

City Parking, the sole parking authority in Harare, is running two parallel parking systems with the marshals using two different types of machines, a development that has caused chaos and untold suffering to motorists.

If a motorist parks a car in one street, the machine being used there may show arrears of $3. After “clearing” the debt, a motorist freely drives to another street where he simply pays his $1 and confidently leaves the car in the bay.

Since there is no co-ordination in the billing system, the second marshal’s machine may show that the same motorist has an even bigger debt, for example $5.

Most vehicles end up being clamped over debts that were never brought to their attention due to the chaotic billing system. A Harare lawyer Alex Majachani of Mberi Chimwamurombe Legal Practice last week had to raise a formal complaint with the City Parking authorities after his vehicle was clamped over a debt he was not aware of.

Majachani became one of the victims of the chaotic parking system as his vehicle was clamped when he confidently felt had a clean account with the parking authority.

“My vehicle was clamped when I had been cleared by another marshal. I was made to believe that my account was clean only to find my vehicle clamped due to a ‘strange bill’ that I was not aware of.

“I had to engage the authorities over the issue and I realised that they were operating a disintegrated system with two different billing systems,” said Mr Majachani. Mr Majachani said there was need for City Park to integrate its systems to avoid inconveniencing the motoring public.

City Parking spokesperson Mr Francis Mandaza confirmed the chaotic situation saying the parking authority was now in the process of correcting it. “On the streets, the parking systems are still operating separately and the systems do not ‘talk’ to each other. Efforts are being made to integrate the two systems,” he said.

Mandaza added that two parallel parking system was inherited from the era when two separate parking entities, Easipark Harare and City Parking used to run the parking business in the capital but they have since merged into one.

“The streets of Harare have always had two parking systems operating from 2012 because two separate companies operated in the CBD, that is, Easipark Harare and City Parking. The two were separate entities.

“Easipark Harare has now been amalgamated into City Parking in terms of administration and operation,” said Mr Mandaza. While the systems are still being worked on, City Parking has urged motorists to make use of the recently launched smart meter system to avoid confusion.

The parking firm also confirmed the technical hitches that take the machines offline saying they do not destroy the parking records. “The machines go off-line due to network connectivity challenges on the part of network providers. However, the servers and back office system is active at all times and data on the activities on the road is not lost due to off-line hitches,” said Mr Mandaza.

Mr Mandaza also did not rule out potential abuse of the system by individual officer. However, he said such an act by the officials if proven, was criminal abuse of office and attracts dismissal from employment.

“The logging of vehicles to score personal battles is abuse of office and is not allowed. We hear such cases even with ZRP and other enforcement agencies. The practice is unprofessional. In our case, we have 3- layer roving monitoring system on the streets that ensures that marshals perform in terms of their mandate. Deviation of this nature leads to dismissal,” he said.

Another motorist Mr Tafataona Shumba expressed disappointment at the way the marshals operated. “I had come to Harare from Chimanimani for a crucial meeting. I parked my car along George Silundilka Street and there was no marshal on the street.

“I rushed into a meeting only to come out after an hour. My vehicle was already clamped and they were now demanding $57 from me. “The marshal was not at his workstation and was that my fault? But since I was traveling back to Chimanimani that same day, I had to pay,” he said.

- Herald
Tags: Harare, cars, impound, clamp, bill, ,

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