Crippling parking crisis

2009-09-16 00:00

BUSINESS owners in the lower Pietermaritzburg business district are crying foul over the lack of parking facilities, which they say is resulting in reduced revenue.

Those with businesses at the lower end of Church Street told The Witness they have been particularly hard hit and may have to close shop if nothing is done to remedy the situation.

Solly Essa (63), who runs Ganie’s Store, an 82-year-old family shop he inherited in 1960, complained that he is no longer getting as many customers as he used to because of cars hogging the parking bays and blocking parking for his customers.

Cars park in the area from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm and even though there are signs that stipulate that no vehicle should park there for more than 60 minutes, motorists continue to flout the law because the traffic department is not monitoring the situation, said Essa.

“I’ve written to the traffic department twice, but they say their hands are tied.

“I’ve tried to tell people not to park there, but they just ignore me and tell me to go to hell. I’m scared they’ll burn my shop if I complain,” said Essa.

He is reluctant to close his shop as it has come down through the generations, but he may be forced to do so as he cannot continue losing revenue.

As it is, his business has steadily dropped by 60%, he said.

Himatlal Soni, who runs a jewellery shop close to Essa’s store, says he also contacted the traffic department, but nothing came of it.

“I don’t mind people parking there during the evenings, but during the day they should not park there for longer than an hour.

“If there were traffic wardens there then people would move, but because there is no co-operation from them, this problem will never end.”

Soni said he has gone as far as asking those who want to come to his shop to phone him so that he can arrange parking at the back.

Segran Perumal, who runs Alpha Pharmacy, said the lack of parking is a common frustration and most of the motorists who hog the bays are shop owners.

“We definitely need something to be done about this because some people have to drive around three or four times before they get parking,” he said.

Essa praised ward councillor Peter Green for arriving at his store 15 minutes after he contacted him to alert him about the situation.

Green said he will investigate what complaints have been made before following up on the matter.

The councillor, who phoned inspectors from the traffic department while in Essa’s store, said he was assured that action will be taken in due course and they are looking at towing away cars that are parked for too long.

Deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services Phil Mashoko said the municipality is looking into the option of charging for parking in the city, as it used to.

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