Tapiwa Mutizamhepo Herald Reporter
THE City of Harare could be losing thousands of dollars in potential revenue to illegal parking cartels involving rogue parking marshals and MDC-Alliance thugs who have grabbed parking space, investigations by this paper have revealed.
It was also established that the parking lots on the streets have now been turned into vehicle showrooms where unregistered ex-Japanese cars for sale are parked dangerously, obstructing other traffic and blocking roads.
Car dealers have moved from the peripheries of the city into the central business district where they have somehow found their way with the parking marshals and occupy the parking bays throughout the day.
These closely-knit groups have taken over parking spaces in the central business district, rendering City Parking officials irrelevant.
They at times bully the parking marshals, threatening them not to operate in “their areas”.
In terms of the Urban Councils Act and Municipal Traffic Laws Enforcement Act, local authorities are the only ones mandated with enforcement of Traffic By-laws which include parking management, clamping vehicles, towing and impounding vehicles that have violated the Traffic By-laws.
The illegal activities by the often rowdy car delears are rife along Angwa Street, from its intersection with Jason Moyo Avenue stretching up to its intersection with Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.
The activities are also rife along Nelson Mandela Avenue from its intersection with Angwa Street up to its intersection with First Street.
Yesterday, this writer posed as motorist seeking parking space and unearthed the rot.
He was approached by a young man, who appeared to be in the early 20s, who indicated he was part of the gangs controlling parking bays along the named streets.
“There are no City Parking marshals here,” he said.
“We are the ones who conduct such business here, they will not even dare come here.”
Curiously, the vehicles that were parked, some of them top-of-the-range such as Mercedes Benz 4matics, did not have parking receipts.
When quizzed further whether the car would not be clamped, the man retorted, “I told you we run the show here, look at all these vehicles, they have been parked here since morning and none of them has been clamped.”
His comments seemed to have been validated by a City Parking employee who said they were afraid of going to such spaces as the marshals would turn violent and threaten to beat them up.
The employee in question, sensationally claimed that senior officials in the local authority could be benefitting from such nefarious activities, which border on corruption.
“We are afraid to do our work there, inzvimbo dze boys (it’s the boys’ space), they claim ownership of those spaces and we once tried to issue parking tickets in those spaces, but we were threatened with physical harm,” said the parking marshal speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
“We have reported that several times to our bosses, but no action is ever taken, I think one or two of them may be involved in these shoddy deals.”
City Parking is responsible for charging motorists the $5 hourly parking fees, while council is responsible for clamping of vehicles that are in arrears.
Harare City Council spokesperson refused to comment on the issue, referring all questions to City Parking.
City Parking spokesperson Mr Francis Mandaza could not be reached for comment as his mobile number went unanswered.
This is not the first time City Parking has come under scrutiny over questionable conduct as recently the company was exposed for not collecting revenue at MDC headquarters, Harvest House building along Nelson Mandela Avenue, prejudicing council potential revenue.
Recently, an investigation by The Herald also revealed that the privately-owned company was being used as a cash cow for the cash strapped opposition, MDC Alliance to fund its programmes.
Then Mr Mandaza was at pains to explain the conduct by the company.
“As to why we do not collect revenue at Harvest House we have said that on numerous occasions,” he said.
“You can as well check on Internet. City Parking is a private limited company and it is run in terms of the Companies Act and has a Board of Directors that manage the company.”