Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has requested for more time to deliberate and respond to a petition from residents and motorists challenging its parking management system which since inception in February has attracted a backlash from different stakeholders in the city.
The plea for more time comes in the wake of mounting pressure from residents, motorists and the business community through a petition handed over to the city council challenging the system and calling for a downward review of the parking fees. BCC had been given 72 hours to respond to the petition, which time expired last Thursday. The local authority, however, wrote back to the conveners of the petition requesting more time to attend to the grievances raised, promising a detailed response by Friday.
“We acknowledge receipt of your petition on 22 August 2022. We note that council was given 72 hours to respond to the issues raised therein. Unfortunately, we are unable to meet that deadline in view of the fact that the petition raises a number of issues that require a detailed response. In light of that we will be sending a detailed response by the 2nd of September, 2022. Our sincere apologies for the delay,” reads a response from the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube.
In the petition titled; bring back our parking space, the petitioners note that previously the local authority was in a habit of approaching businesses in the Central Business District on matters they considered important which had a positive bearing on business development in the city but with the parking system, the council decided to go it alone.
They argue that the local authority did not educate the residents on their intention to bring a new player to their CBD parking revenue collection strategy hence it came as shock to the business community, the CBD residential tenants as well as the motoring public when BCC suddenly rolled out the new system.
“This new model imposed an increase of over 2 400 percent parking fees which made Bulawayo parking fees by far more expensive than New York City in the USA. This move drastically affected business revenue flow in the CBD as patronage decreased. This caused artificial inflation, public distress and general lack of trust in the city administration. This development had an adverse impact on CBD business. It is very clear that the new parking system has failed to gain support from the Bulawayo Business Community, the residential tenants in the CBD as well as the motoring public. As soon as this new system was introduced, business experienced an immediate drop in patronage from customers resulting in loss of sales by up to 50 percent,” reads part of the petition.
Among the demands set by the petitioners they demanded that the parking space in the city centre be opened to the motoring public while negotiations between the residents and BCC will be going on.
“We demand that a period of 30 days be set aside as the time-frame to conclude all negotiations to do with Bulawayo city parking. During this period of negotiations, parking charges should revert to the old BCC charges before their marriage to TTI.
“Further to this, we demand that the city council opens up to the public motorists the open space at the city hall for parking at subsidised rates. The old BCC parking charges for quarterly disks was pegged at USD34,00 bringing it to USD0,37c per day. We demand that BCC re-introduce monthly and quarterly parking disks while negotiations are in progress,” reads the petition.
BCC last year entered into a partnership with Tendy Three Investments (TTI) for the implementation of a parking management system in the Central Business District. The company won the bid in July 2020 and got the greenlight from Central Government for them to start operations in August last year after the council had submitted their papers to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida). The partnership will run for a period of six years.