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Monday Feb 11, 2013

Joburg's flawed paid-up parking system under review

The implementation of Joburg kerb-side, paid-parking system was bungled and the city has conceded that despite its contract with Ace Parking Services being valid, a review of the system is now under way.

This comes after unsuccessful public participation meetings with residents of Parkhurst where the system has caused an outcry following its extension to the suburb.

This week, the city's spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said of concern was not the contract, but how public consultation was undertaken.

He said the rollout plan, during which the Joburg metro police claimed to have consulted, was "really for compliance" but the council's political heads did not feel it was satisfactory.

"There are outstanding issues of public engagements and this process is spearheaded by the chairman of the Section 79 committee in the council," he said. "In terms of the tender list, there are areas where the council felt it was not necessary to have paid parking, like those in front of Melrose Arch."

However, Modingoane said that paid parking was not unique to Joburg as it was implemented in most cities to deal with management of public spaces and congestion.

He said suburbs like Melville, Fordsburg and Mayfair were being looked at because they had sections of semi-central business districts that created unmanageable parking issues.

A senior member of the city of Joburg executive, who did wish to be named, told the Saturday Star that proper procedures were not followed in the rollout of the paid parking system which had left it compromised in the eyes of the public.

"The council is cognisant of the legal implications of the contract if it is terminated because it could leave ratepayers with a bill running into millions, like the previous parking contract," said the member.

"What is happening now is a bit of a review of the system without violating any of the contractual obligations signed. The city wants to manage its public parking spaces to avoid congestion and generate revenue, but not in the way the Ace Parking was implemented."

The council's agreement with Ace gives the company 74.8 percent of the parking revenue and the council only 25.2 percent as well as fines from motorists who don't pay. The company has been operating the system in the Joburg CBD and Braamfontein without problems.

The three-year contract with Ace Parking, which runs until next June, involves 4 500 parking bays.

Tim Truluck, councillor for ward 117 which includes parts of Parkhurst, said the outcome of failed public meetings in Parkhurst had been to set up a committee to investigate the feasibility of paid parking in the area.

He said city officials who did presentations during the public meetings were shouted down and later admitted that they had never done a study to determine where the parking was suitable.

"The contract (with Ace Parking) is a stuff-up and they are running down the clock," he said. "They are stuck now in Parkhurst because if they remove it, Ace will... pounce on the council for breach of contract much like the previous meter contractors who got paid more than R240 million in the end."

Truluck said Ace had not considered a 15-minute free parking prerequisite depending on areas of operation.

Paid parking was initially set to be extended to Rosebank, Roodepoort, Melville, Florida, Norwood, Linden, Randburg and Fordsburg among other areas.

Saturday Star

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