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Tuesday Mar 05, 2013

Joburg's paid parking scheme on hold

The City of Joburg's unpopular paid parking scheme, which was expected to be rolled out to seven suburban nodes, has been placed on hold indefinitely.

The scheme was introduced in Parkhurst in 2011 in the face of much opposition from residents and businesses. It was to have been implemented in other suburbs by June 1 last year, but the council has failed to roll it out in even one other suburb.

Joburg metro police department spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar confirmed yesterday that the JMPD was now reviewing the scheme in its entirety.

"We had some public participation meetings, but for the moment it is on hold and being reviewed," he said.

In the meantime, ACE, the meter operators, have collected R3.23 million in five months in parking fees from the three areas where it is operational.

The DA announced yesterday that out of the total funds collected in the Joburg CBD, Braamfontein and Parkhurst, the council has earned only R1.08m.

The agreement was that ACE was to get 75 percent of the takings and pay only 25 percent over to the city.

Parkhurst councillor Tim Truluck said Parkhurst makes only 3 percent of the income - or R269 a day.

When the three areas are compared, he said, the Joburg CBD earns 66 percent, Braamfontein 31 percent and "tiny" Parkhurst only 3 percent of the income. This equates to a mere R128 133 for the five-month period from July to November 2012. The city's earnings from this are R32 289.

"If you break it down even further, Parkhurst earned the City of Joburg an average of only R6 458 a month, or R269 a day. While there is undoubtedly further income to the city from parking fines, the amount collected directly from the scheme clearly shows that this scheme is not suited to a suburban high-street environment.

"It is not sustainable and does not address the real needs of the community," Truluck said.

The city claimed that the scheme was not just about raising money, but was also aimed at alleviating the parking problems in the suburb, Truluck added.

"However, in the times when this scheme operates, there are very rarely parking problems. The main problems experienced are in the evenings and at weekends, when this scheme does not operate.

"The city has realised this fact and has put a halt to rolling out the kerbside paid parking scheme into other suburbs. And yet it remains in Parkhurst, where it continues to punish the residents who live there, the businesses who operate there and the visitors who shop and eat there. The DA calls for the scheme to be scrapped in Parkhurst unless it can be immediately adapted to address the real needs of the community," he said.

However, Minnaar said it should be remembered that ACE has to pay its staff, for uniforms and equipment. The council was also making money from the fines collected in the cases of motorists refusing to pay for parking, he added.

A source inside the JMPD, who did not want to be named, said the scheme had failed.

"They were supposed to do all sorts of participation studies with residents, but nothing has been done," he said.

On a surprise visit in August last year to see how the scheme was working in the inner city at Commissioner, Fox, Loveday and Rissik streets, Joburg councillors found that it was failing dismally.

They found that among the biggest problems was that marshals were earning so little - 15 percent of a day's taking, or about R45 - that they were probably not issuing receipts.

The Star

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