I would like to make a few points on the Parking Meter Project (PMP) of City Hall. I have three principled points which I wish to make and this does not include the length of the contract and the issues of transparency and competitive requests for proposals.
First, I asked the question: “Is there traffic congestion in the city centre and what the possible solutions are?”
Traffic congestion is primarily determined by the time delay which is incurred in moving from point A to point B. Some measures this time as much as 60 minutes for persons getting to and from work within a radius of five miles.
I will say that for the PMP the radius is half of a mile and the normal time to traverse this area by vehicle should be fifteen minutes.
I have logged commute time in all these areas and a person can move from Hadfield Street to Church Street on Avenue of the Republic in under that time in the busiest of periods. From Church Street to Hadfield Street via Camp Street in less than that time. Travels between Cummings Street to Water Street via Croal Street, South Road, Regent Street, Robb Street, North Road or Church Street are all also under fifteen minutes. Thus I concluded that congestion is not the ill (at this time) we are trying to cure with the PMP.
To increase traffic flows, all road users need to obey traffic rules. In the downtown areas the biggest obstacle to flows is the manner in which pedestrians cross the road.
There should be wardens placed at key crossings to regulate pedestrian crossings. This should be paid out of the taxes which are paid into city hall. The downtown businesses and property owners pay more than their fair share of taxes to City Hall and receive the least amount of services.
Secondly, is it to assist with the issue of parking?
Along certain arteries the wait for a parking spot is under ten minutes. Most of the parking in the PMP area are taken up by store owners and their employees or the roadside vending. However, we have not met levels that demand critical action.
When the police started the current no diagonal parking along main downtown streets, there was an outrage about the decrease in parking. However, apart from circling a few times there is parking. Those who want to drive downtown are already consolidating trips to the city or taking taxis.
If we want the private sector to do parking as a business then we should not put parking meters, but allow the issue of demand and supply to allocate the investments necessary. The Parika private parking lot is a great local example of this. How not to do it is the City Hall’s reactive parking lot on East Street.
Is the PMP a good revenue earning measure? City Hall has to deal with the perennial problem that all local government authorities have to deal with, ie financing budgets.
We are told that the city will get 20 per cent of the revenues or about $200 million.
The Parking meter guru recently said that central government will get 16 per cent also – I guess he is talking about VAT on the parking meters charges. That 16 per cent is not to be taken into the revenue equation.
Thus it means that City Hall is delegating revenue collection to a private company and willing to incur four times the revenue in collection cost for that revenue.
This must be the most inefficient tax collecting system ever.
Imagine GRA spending $800 billion to collect $200 billion. City Hall says 200 jobs will be created; this is not job creation, it’s cost of inefficiency. As a revenue programme the PMP cannot stand the test. Additionally, the new local government laws talk about fiscal transfers, let’s wait on that.
Editor, here are some other observations: One would have expected that an outgoing council (the Nov 2015) would NOT have entered into any major contractual arrangements when they knew local government elections were around the corner. What really was their motive?
A new council would have looked at the operations of City Hall and work on improving efficiencies at all levels. I am sure that if they had done a review and a forensic audit we would have learnt much. Will they do it? It’s a fact when TC Shoba left office City Hall had $750 million in its account. Now, it is that amount in debt? How come I ask?