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Tuesday Oct 02, 2012

New Joburg parking measures are failing

The controversial paid kerbside parking which is supposed to roll out to seven other Joburg suburbs is failing in the inner city.

Lettie Ndlovu, of Ace Parking, hands a motorist his parking change.

This is despite the JMPD repeatedly claiming that it is successful and welcomed by motorists and businesses.

City councillors and officials from the public safety committee in August held an unannounced visit to Commissioner, Fox, Loveday and Rissik streets to see for themselves if the project was working. After the visit, they expressed concerns about the way it was being operated.

Among the biggest problems they found was that marshals were earning so little - 15 percent of a day's taking, or about R45 a day - and that they were "probably" not issuing receipts. They also found that government officials and political office bearers working in the numerous provincial buildings in the area were being given letters by their department head stating they did not have to pay.

The committee members also found that there was a lack of supervision by JMPD officials.

A further matter causing concern to the city was that Ace Parking Services had subcontracted its services without consulting the city which, as a result, was not recuperating its 25 percent of the parking money collected.

The city released a report of its findings at last month's council meeting.

This comes in the face of the city wanting to extend the parking system to another seven suburbs: Melville, Norwood, Roodepoort, Florida, Rosebank and Fordsburg on June 1, but was postponed for a month for further public consultation, and has now been postponed for the fourth time.

There has been a huge outcry from residents and businesses which claim the levying of parking fees will destroy already-declining trading in these suburban business nodes.

The city, which was accused of not consulting councillors, residents and businesses has been holding meetings, but has yet to announce a starting date.

Besides the CBD, the parking is operating in Braamfontein and Parkhurst, an area where residents and businesses have sought legal advice on how to have it removed.

The public safety committee uncovered many difficulties and problems around the CBD parking. Among others it found:

  • The majority of vehicles did not have tickets and were parking the whole day;

  • Tickets were on the outside of the windscreen and not inside as required by law;

  • There was no proper signage informing motorists of the paid parking;

  • Car guards were operating in an area manned by Ace, which was confusing motorists;

  • Marshals were not wearing the same uniforms or name tags, nor did they have two-way radios;

  • No JMPD officials were there to verify the authenticity and the time schedule of the tickets;

  • Illegal car washers were causing "dilapidation of the city's road infrastructure";

  • Because the marshals were remunerated only 15 percent of what they take (about R300 a day), the committee noted "with concern," that this may compromise the system as the marshals may find it better not to issue a receipt, but rather to pocket the money. "This creates a challenge for the city to recuperate revenue from the parking system."

  • Payment can only be prepaid for an hour, meaning the guard has to watch the car all the time and was often not given the money;

  • The system did not provide for urgent, 15-minute transactions;

  • The marshals were not respected by motorists who often refused to pay;

  • Government and political office bearers were not willing to pay - they produce cards given to them by their employers to evade paying for parking;

  • Road markings have faded away.

    The city took the decision at the council meeting to call on the JMPD to submit a report to the public safety committee by November, on how the revenue recuperated from the kerbside parking was being allocated to the Joburg Roads Agency for road maintenance.

    The city's spokesman Gabu Tugwana has insisted that the parking management system would go ahead as planned after public consultation.

    The Star

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