BY FRANCIS MANDAZA
The effectiveness of parking management in any modern city depends on the
enforcement of parking prohibitions or parking bylaws. After 10 years of operating
in Harare, finally, City Parking has been mandated to enforce parking bylaws.
Traffic volumes have risen exponentially in the last decade, exerting pressure on
road and parking infrastructure that has largely remained stagnant. With a
reported over one million cars and a paltry six thousand parking bays, Harare
became in-trafficable and the level of dissonance and mayhem on our streets
spoke to anti-business.
While poor infrastructure has contributed to the traffic jungle that Harare has
become, it is largely the behaviour of drivers that is worrisome as some drivers
park recklessly obstructing traffic with clear disregard for the parking bylaws.
Addressing the press upon the commencement of City Parking’s enforcement,
Harare Mayor Councillor Mafume said there was a need to restore order in the
“If business is to continue in Harare then we have to make the city trafficable and
orderly once again.
“We cannot afford to have a lawless city where one is selling maize cobs at one
corner and the other is washing his car in the main street.
“Other cities, if you were to check global fines, have hefty penalties for lawless
driving and general lawlessness in the CBD. Some even charge vehicles upon entry
into town or allocate days of entering CBDs,” said the Mayor.
It seems driving etiquette has disappeared, and the emergence of mushika-shika
has made the situation worse. Reckless driving has unfortunately become
commonplace, with unlicensed taxis vying for space and engaging in a dangerous
game of cat and mouse with law enforcement. Tragically, innocent pedestrians
have also been caught up in the chaos and have suffered the consequences.
The council resolution that empowered City Parking to clamp and fine offenders
was two-pronged, one mandating City Parking to enforce failure to display valid
parking ticket and continued parking on expired parking tickets while the council
also gave greenlight for a partnership between City Parking and Harare Traffic
Enforcement, which is yet to commence, to enforce on all other offences
committed in and around Harare CBD.
After two weeks of enforcing, a lot happened and invaluable lessons were learnt in
the process. Notable improvement in traffic flow speeds were witnessed in Harare
Central Business District (CBD) as well as more free parking bays for visitors, a
semblance of a city open for business.
However, there were pockets of resistance on the part of drivers and a general
public outcry on the approaches used and chiefly on the quantum of fines imposed
on offenders amounting to US$132. While the fine amount is meant to deter
parking violations, the public decried wanning income levels for the general public
and general economic hardships.
City of Harare who are the policymakers as well as the enforcement authorities,
embraced the feedback and aligned the parking fines so that they are deterrent
City Parking has scheduled customer care training sessions for enforcers to
engender a culture of professional conduct when dealing with drivers. A few videos
of violent conduct involving City Parking employees are quite regrettable and must
not be seen again.
Wheel clamping is one of the methods used to enforce parking and traffic rules,
and it’s effective in deterring offenders. Not only do fines act as a deterrent, but
getting immobilised is a hassle that nobody wants to deal with. Seeing someone
being clamped is a stark reminder for drivers to follow the rules. Interestingly,
wheel clamping isn’t just done in Zimbabwe – it’s been successful in London, Tel
Aviv, Amsterdam and many other cities.
Making sure that traffic flows smoothly and safely is important to everyone
involved. However, there tend to be more people who cry out for order without
supporting actions to clamp down on offenders. Notwithstanding, we should strive
for harmony and make our cities safe for all to navigate.