Parking chaos: no end in sight

2018-11-19 15:45

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The parking shambles in the city gets worse by the month and no firm date has been set by the municipality for a new contractor to replace the lucrative deal it once had with Panzascore.

The City cut ties with Panzascore in March, leaving parking unregulated and 100 parking attendants unemployed. They now have to beg for tips from motorists and fight with vagrants over parking bays.

Most of them have either stayed at home or found alternative employment but a handful still “work” the city’s street as car guards, with hopes that the parties would sign a new agreement soon.

Panzascore went into a joint venture with Johannesburg-based company Dynamic Parking Solutions and Msunduzi in 2013.

When the contract expired after three years, the City extended it to run from month-to-month for six months.

The parking attendants continued operating and Panzascore still paid 25% of the monthly profits to Msunduzi even after the last extension, which was in November 2016.

Sweetwaters resident Lindiwe Dlamini said her financial situation had been difficult since March when the City ordered them to stop operating.

The single mother of four said she used to take home more than R2 500 in commission monthly and now she was grateful if she made R30 in tips in a day.

She spends R26 on transport daily and sometimes uses the left over money to buy bread and a prepaid electricity token.

“My husband (Walter Dlamini) died in 2005 and my children are still in school. At the moment I’m struggling to make sure that they have everything they need because sometimes I can’t even afford a loaf of bread,” she said.

Khumbu Mchunu said “They [vagrants] say they also have a right to guard cars for tips because we are no longer employed by Panzascore. There have been physical fights over busy spots like Langalibalele Street, so we just let them take over because it’s not worth losing our lives over.”

The parking attendants said they did not understand why Msunduzi terminated the parking contract as it brought in revenue and created employment opportunities for poor people.

Apparently paid parking used to generate more than R200 000 every month for the municipality, but that decreased due to lack of enforcement so the last payment, in February, was reportedly R36 000.

“The municipality would have made a lot of money from paid parking if they
Continued on page 3

THE collapse of the City’s partnership with Panzascore was not the first time the paid parking system failed to deliver the expected gains for Msunduzi.

In 1996 the municipality introduced computerised meters, but they were later scrapped when they become unprofitable as motorists were able to tamper with them by putting in 2-cent coins instead of R2. Other machines were vandalised and became too costly to fix. Msunduzi had hoped to generate R500 000 but only received R170 000 in 1998.

In 2002 the municipality appointed African Parking Solutions to manage the voucher system.

The controversial contract was terminated after just over a year when it was found that the council did not follow its legal procurement process when it appointed the service provider. The contract also reportedly did not generated the R2 million a year that was anticipated from charging R1,50 an hour.

For the first five months the City received more than R65 000 monthly, but the amounts quickly went down.

Issues of enforcement were also raised and there were calls for Msunduzi to review its traffic by-laws.

Parking systems applied 'erratically and unfairly' 

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said there were concerns with the Msunduzi and Panzascore partnership as their paid parking system was erratically and unfairly applied.

The chamber also said the manner in which it was implemented was not in the interests of citizens.

One of the issues raised was that the metering system did not appear to be being rolled out across the city in any ordered or fair manner.

Veness said while there were parking attendants placed at uneven intervals along Pietermaritz Street, there are few or no attendants in Hoosen Haffejee Street and Boom Street, and an inordinately large number were placed in Greyling Street She said as one gets further from the centre of the city, the business and parking dynamics change.

In Greyling Street, for instance, most businesses are small, medium and micro-sized enterprises that operate out of residential properties that have, in recent years, been rezoned as commercial properties.

“The vast majority of these properties do not have sufficient on-site parking to accommodate their staff and the nature of their businesses is such that they don’t have a large number of customers calling at any point during the day. What has traditionally happened is that staff and customers have parked quite comfortably alongside each other in the street during the day,” said Veness.

She said the staff could not afford to pay R6 an hour as that amounted to more than R1 000 a month and the business owners also could not afford to cover this cost on behalf of all their employees.

Veness also expressed concerns about the “appalling” working conditions of the attendants who spent most of the day on their feet and outside where they had neither shelter nor access to drinking water or ablution facilities.

She said the 40% commission they earned was not enough.

“We are not against the paid parking system, but it must be applied properly so that it is fair to everyone, including the motorists and the attendants”.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  parking
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