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“Parking fees too high for Bulawayo”

The Chronicle

Yvonne Ncube, Chronic Correspondent

Businesses and resident associations in BULAWAYO have insisted that the fees for the new parking system set up by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in partnership with the private company Tendy Three Investments (TTI) are exorbitant.

The Bulawayo City Council Revenue Hall

This was said during a dialogue organized by the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PPRIZ) in collaboration with other non-governmental organizations at a hotel in Bulawayo on Friday evening which sought to address the implications of the new parking system.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), BCC, TTI, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Simbisa Brands and researchers participated in the indaba.

Participants noted that high parking fees are now affecting businesses in the central business district (CBD).

Professor Reinford Khumalo, a public policy researcher who wrote about the parking system, started the conversation by saying that while the city has to charge for parking services, the parking cost of $1 per hour is excessive for Bulawayo. .

ZNCC’s Mr Mduduzi Ncube said the BCC did not consult the companies when implementing the fees. “Businesses are concerned that BCC and TTI did not consult with the business sector when developing the pricing system, which turned out to be an additional transaction cost. BCC has always consulted stakeholders on new developments. For example, in December, the 8th Avenue Mall Annual Stakeholders were engaged by BCC, but this time we were not called for this meeting which would have taken place.

“This affected business and the price of transactions the company might want to make at any given time. Tenants fled, for example, the First Mutual Life building on 10th Avenue, the Pioneer building as well as the Old Mutual building also on 8th Ave. All of these spaces have been left vacant as businesses have had to locate out of the central business district where customers are fleeing, to escape high parking fees. As a result, the business fraternity has been greatly affected” , said Mr. Ncube.

BVTA representative, Mr. Michael Ndiweni, said the BCC should consider the economic size of the city before setting the parking fee.

Executive Director of Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association Mr. Michael Ndiweni

“We believe parking pricing should be indexed to Bulawayo’s economic size to see if $1 per hour is viable for city residents. Right now it seems that people are being criminalized for owning cars and charging them very high fees.

“People have started going to the outskirts leaving the CBD deserted, this will one day result in young people employed by TTI not getting their salaries because there is no money generation when the cars don’t come more to CBD.

“We are asking that the fees be reviewed to see if there will be any changes in parking usage. I have spoken to business people who have complained about losses since the new parking services started. The topic of decentralization has been overplayed, Nkulumane complex and Entumbane complex are empty as businesses have moved to the CBD. The BCC should address these issues if it really wants to decongest CBD,” Mr. Ndiweni said.

Mr. Thembelani Dube of BPRA said the BCC should engage residents before signing contracts.

Mr. Thembelani Dubé

“As much as we value public-private partnerships, we are concerned about how these developments are brought to the people of Bulawayo. We have concerns about the companies that are brought in and the contracts that are signed noting that we have not yet seen much development in the Egodini project which is of a similar nature. We are afraid that when you follow most of the contracts made by BCC, there will be no results. So it becomes worrisome if there is no broad consultation.

“As far as TTI is concerned, we think that if the inhabitants had been involved in the drafting of the tariffs, we would have reached a sustainable figure for everyone. If the residents hadn’t been making noise, maybe the prices would still be US$1 for 30 minutes. Also, if residents hadn’t made noise, people would still pay the same amount for every five minutes of parking in a different location. While some of our challenges as residents are being looked at, US$1 an hour is still not sustainable,” Dube said.

He said there was a need to decentralize CBD services.

“You have to disconcert the city center services to talk about decongestion. Bulawayo is a multi-nuclear model, so there is no need for someone from Emakhandeni to come to the CBD to buy goods and services, but there is the Entumbane complex. These are the things BCC should be looking at when looking to decongest CBD rather than overburdening residents,” Dube said.

Mr. Vusisizwe Sibanda, speaking on behalf of the council, indicated that while parking pricing has not changed significantly, the efficiency of fee collection has improved.

“We can all agree that the reason people are crying now that parking is expensive is because of the greater efficiency it has brought to the city. 30-minute parking spots as of 2009 cost $0.76, or $1.52 for an hour, but since the fundraising efficiency wasn’t there, many people didn’t think the parking was so expensive. . The 25-page parking disc booklet then cost US$19.

“The new parking system costs $1 an hour. If you opted for the same price as previously advertised, we would actually pay more. The city has about 200,000 cars, and the large-scale implemented parking management would be 7,200 spaces. So when we look at it from that perspective, you will realize that the number of cars in the city does not match the parking spaces,” he said.

Mr Sibanda said the main purpose of the new parking system is to decongest CBD.

“Buildings like LAPF House, Old Mutual and Pioneer House, we consider that each business now occupies one or two offices and if these people are all supposed to park on the street, it would mean that all their customers would have to look elsewhere to park. One of the main purposes for which the system was put in place was to decongest so that we were able to manage the parking lot in such a way that someone going to Edgars could find a parking space at any time of the day.

“The prevailing situation in the city was that people were parking their cars all day. This means that if 7,200 people park their cars all day, the largest percentage, which is around 90%, has no space to park their car. This often forced some people to park on the street, making it difficult for motorists to get around. As a city, we had to deal with this because it’s not the normal way,” he said.

He said street parking was not intended for people parking for long hours, but for customers.

“You will also find that when planning this city, there were plenty of parking spaces, especially for businesses, but these parking spaces are no longer used for what they were intended. For example, at Haddon and Sly’s, the whole place behind it is supposed to be a parking lot for people working in the building, but because the owner decided to make more money, he rented the space out to someone to do a car sale and other spaces are locked.

“These parking spaces are the ones for long hours, street parking is not for long hours, it is for customers who buy and leave. Street parking is not a garage where someone can park all day. These are things that most people are unaware of – that for every 100 square meters there is an apartment building parking lot,” Mr Sibanda said.

TTI chief executive Bongani Nyathi said he heard people’s concerns. — @SeehYvonne

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