Wednesday, 1 May 2019

490 000 CARS ENJOY FREE PARKING IN HARARE AS CORRUPTION WORSENS


CORRUPTION in Harare City Council’s traffic section, coupled with inefficiency in enforcement of traffic laws, has cost the local authority close to $30 million in the first three months of 2019, with over 490 000 vehicles enjoying “free” parking.

Had all the defaulters been clamped, council could have realised about $28 million to cover its ballooning salary arrears and other obligations to improve service delivery.

But it has emerged that the severe leakages are directly benefiting certain individuals while bleeding the city due to unaccountability.

The MDC-run council gets a share from every $1 fee collected by City Parking, the firm responsible for collecting parking fees, but it also directly takes all the $57 fines imposed on motorists for illegal parking and other traffic offences.

Poor enforcement and graft on the part of some traffic officers result in some motorists paying bribes of almost half the stipulated fines before their cars are unclamped and released without charge.

Such revelations come at a time when council has recruited 700 police officers, the bulk of whom were deployed on the streets to enforce traffic laws.

Investigations by The Herald revealed that out of about 1,2 million vehicles that parked in Harare’s sensor-based parking bays from January to March 2019, at least 490 000 did not pay for various reasons.

Statistics also show that over 700 000 motorists that parked their vehicles in various bays paid for the service during the first quarter of the year. Impeccable sources allege that the money that is not accounted for end up in the pockets of some corrupt elements within council’s traffic section, while other motorists just drive unnoticed despite the municipal traffic officers’ heavy presence on the streets of Harare. 

“Some vehicles are just clamped for a few minutes to instil fear on the motorists who end up paying bribes far less than the stipulated fine,” said a council employee.

“Council is four months behind in terms of paying us our salaries and the officers have resorted to self-help to raise their salaries on the streets.” 

Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said council was working on improving its revenue collection.

He said all corrupt officers will be dealt with accordingly. “Harare City Council is enhancing its parking management system to ensure that council collects all revenue due to it,” he said. “Corrupt parking officers will be dealt with accordingly.”

Mr Chideme said people with evidence of corruption against traffic officers should report to the council. 

“We encourage anyone with that information to come to our offices so that we carry out our own investigations,” he said.

Most council employees are still anticipating payment of their February 2019 salaries.

The local authority has been struggling to pay its workers over the past years. Herald

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