Joburg paid parking hits snag as politicians get in on the act
The rollout of paid parking meters in six greater Joburg areas appears to have been put on hold, with politicians now having taken over the controversial matter following a huge outcry by residents and businesses.
The scheme was supposed to have started in Melville, Norwood, Roodepoort, Florida, Rosebank and Fordsburg on June 1, but was postponed for further public consultation for a month, and has now been postponed for a third time.
City politicians have been holding meetings this week with affected ward councillors. The Joburg metro police department (JMPD) has refused to comment on the matter, saying the office of the speaker of the City of Joburg was dealing with it.
Councillor Amanda Forsythe said that at a meeting held in June, she had requested that the JMPD provide details of the so-called surveys that had been conducted in order to select the suburbs chosen for the scheme, as well as their definition of what constituted an "urban node" that required parking controls.
"Unfortunately the chief of [metro] police, Chris Ngcobo, who had promised me this information, did not attend the meeting," she said.
Safety and security committee chairman Oupa Monareng, who led the meeting, told councillors the rollout would be going ahead, but not before proper public consultation had taken place.
"Apparently, both he and the city's head of communications would be contacting residents' and traders' associations in the affected suburbs to invite them to a meeting to discuss the plan and [offer] input on how it could be best implemented. This seems to be a positive step in the right direction," said Forsythe, who added that the consultation should not just be a PowerPoint presentation, but a process aimed at transparency.
Councillors in affected areas want to know how the suburbs were selected, and have asked for a reduction in the intended charge of R8.50 an hour - which they say is punitive to business - and a compulsory 15- to 30-minute free parking opportunity.
There are many issues that still have to be ironed out between the city, residents, traders and the councillors, including proper signage and repairs to the roads and pavements where paid parking is to be implemented.
The councillors are also asking for a review of where the 25 percent of revenue earned by the City of Joburg from the parking would go to, and will be calling for a commitment that at least a portion of these earnings gets ploughed back into the affected suburbs.
Forsythe said the city had clearly acknowledged that serious mistakes were made in the contract with Ace Parking and in the implementation of the scheme so far.
"They have committed to rectifying these mistakes as much as possible and accommodating the needs and interests of residents and traders. It is up to all concerned to exercise our democratic rights and hold them to their promises."
The City of Joburg's head of communications, Gabu Tugwana, however, said the parking management system was going ahead as planned.
"Most cities in the world have a parking management system together with enforcement measures to ensure a fair and simple parking solution for motorists," he said, adding that paid-parking systems were a primary municipal management strategy to reduce parking problems.
A dedicated e-mail address - paidparking-AT-joburg.org-DOT-za - has been set up for residents to send inputs and comments.