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Friday May 11, 2012

Joburg passes buck on paid parking

It is, and was, the job of Joburg ward councillors to inform residents and businesses about the paid kerbside parking in suburban areas.

So said Gabu Tugwana, head of the City of Joburg's communications department, at a media briefing held yesterday to explain the rollout of the parking system to an additional six suburbs.

Tugwana, who was reacting to accusations of a lack of consultation by the council with businesses and residents, said councillors had been informed about the proposed metering system in both the section 79 committee meetings and at full council meetings, and it was their responsibility, as elected representatives, to relay the information to residents.

"However, two weeks before we start, we will distribute pamphlets and put up posters and will work with all ward councillors. We are happy to engage and get comments from affected communities," he said.

This statement led to an objection by Parkhurst councillor Tim Truluck, who had gatecrashed the media briefing, because he had never had any official communication from the council about the parking. Truluck has been involved in the issue since it was implemented earlier this year.

As a councillor, he said, he had never been informed of the implementation and never saw any documentation, and had heard about it only in December when Ace Parking Systems started the rollout.

He was then asked to refrain from commenting during the meeting.

Councillor Amanda Forsythe, whose area includes parts of Melville, also said she had never been told or seen anything on any council agenda about the proposed paid-parking scheme, set to start in the area on June 1.

"The first I heard about it was through councillor Truluck. There has been absolutely no communication with me or residents. Melville is getting its second breath, we are planning all sorts of things to revitalise the area. This is going to be a huge knock," she said.

The council's legal representative, Pieter de Klerk, said the city did not have a legal obligation to conduct public participation - it was a discretionary process, although "it is obvious that the community would like more engagement".

Joburg metro police department chief Chris Ngcobo said they had learnt lessons from the Parkhurst saga, where the scheme was postponed because residents and businesses claimed they had not been consulted.

"We will not fine people for the first two weeks, to get them used to it. We believe that if we control parking, business will increase and not decrease," he said.

Regarding allegations that Ace Parking Systems subcontracted its services without informing the council, Tugwana said any tender irregularities would be investigated.

"We welcome the assistance in uncovering that Ace allegedly breached their contract. We have started engaging with them with a view to remedy this breach of contract," he said.

Tugwana spoke of the benefits of the parking system, which he said would ease congestion, free parking spaces close to business activity areas, as well as freeing the movement of communities and public spaces.

The Star

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