Paid Parking: What Causes Unpaid Fees and How to Avoid Them
One of the most common challenges globally is saturation of parking spaces as vehicles continue to outnumber existing parking lots. As a way of mitigating this challenge, most cities in the world end up resorting to charging a nominal fee for parking. The objective is to manage the period of parking space occupation so that more motorists can be able to use this valuable yet scarce resource. This approach helps cities meet the needs of citizens and visitors who want parking space to be freed up as much as possible so that they are able to find parking space whenever they visit the city. The City of Manzini is one of many in the world that adopted on-street and off-street paid parking upon realising that the number of vehicles that visited the bustling city on a daily basis was rapidly increasing; resulting in shortage of parking space. Moreover, the city was facing a challenge of motorists who parked their vehicles on the streets the whole day and travelled to destinations in other towns or elsewhere. This made parking space availability even scarcer. The paid parking zone in the City of Manzini is identifiable by a green marking on the parking bays. In line with its vision, which amongst others emphasises innovation, the city has over the years been gradually upgrading its paid parking system; in the process adopting a smart parking solution. This improvement has come with an issue of accumulated unpaid parking fees. Today’s article seeks to highlight some of the noted causes of accumulation of unpaid parking fees and how these can be avoided.
- HOW UNPAID PARKING FEES ACCUMULATE
It is important to mention that the paid parking system is able to detect and record a parking incident in any of the paid parking zones in the city; whether or not the motorist has paid for parking. Therefore, whenever a vehicle parks on the paid parking zone within the stipulated paid parking hours (8am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays) and exits the parking bay without paying the due fees, the system picks it; resulting in an accumulation of unpaid parking fees. It has also been observed that some motorists flatly refuse to pay when approached and requested to do so by a parking marshal. Driving off without paying is not a wise thing to do as it does not eliminate the debt. The next time the vehicle parks in town there will be a reminder about the unpaid fees. Another cause of unpaid fees is occupation of a parking bay beyond the period paid for and driving off without paying for the excess parking time. If, for example, you pay for 20 minutes parking but find yourself occupying the parking bay for a period more than the 20 minutes, you are required to pay for the time overlap before exiting the parking bay; failing which there will be an accumulation of unpaid fees against your vehicle. Other motorists park their vehicles before commencement of paid parking hours (before 8am) and drive off after paid parking hours (after 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and 2pm on Saturdays). That is another cause for the accumulation of unpaid fees.
- WHAT TO DO TO AVOID UNPAID PARKING FEES
The following is what motorists can do to avoid an accumulation of unpaid parking fees;
- Always pay for the time spent in a parking bay. If you happen to occupy the parking bay beyond the period paid for, do make it a point that you pay for the excess time before exiting the parking bay. Even if you use the Umlamuleli prepaid parking card it is important that you hand your card to the parking marshal and pay for the excess time before driving off the parking bay. Make it a point that you check your ticket when you return to your vehicle and ascertain that you have not parked beyond the bought time.
- Whenever you have time whilst parking anywhere in the paid parking zone, do request a parking marshal to check if you have any unpaid fees so that you are not taken by surprise when being given the bill.
- Always get a receipt from the parking marshal after paying and verify the vehicle registration numbers and fee paid.
- When occupying a parking bay, always inquire from the parking marshal whether or not you have unpaid fees so that you can plan on how you will reduce or liquidate the owing fees.
- Do not collude with a parking marshal or parking inspector in an effort to evade payment of due parking fees. The system is able to pick up such malpractices.
…HOW TO AVOID HAVING YOUR VEHICLE CLAMPED
The last thing a motorist desires is to have their vehicle clamped; moreso because of the payable release fee (E80). The following is what motorists are encouraged to do in order to avoid having their vehicles clamped;
- Always pay when occupying a parking bay in the paid parking zone and pay enough for the period within which the parking bay will be occupied. If you park the vehicle without paying you are likely to find your vehicle clamped on your return. The paid parking zone is identifiable by parking bays that have a green marking.
- Each street has a sign board that spells out the maximum parking time. Observe those maximum parking times.
- Avoid an accumulation of unpaid parking fees, regardless of the amount owing.
- Avoid parking on walkways (commonly referred to as pavements), yellow lines, pedestrian crossings, loading zones and bus stops. Also avoid double parking (having the vehicle overlap onto the next parking bay).
- Never refuse to pay for parking or settling accumulated unpaid fees.
- Never illegally remove the clamp. If you do so you risk prosecution in a court of law. Moreover, the vehicle will certainly be re-clamped next time it parks in the city.
- It is important to emphasise that the City of Manzini uses pre-paid parking as opposed to post-payment. It has been observed that some motorists are in a hurry; thus opting to pay on return to the vehicle (post-paid). This often results in clamping of the vehicle, despite any informal arrangements that may have been made with the parking marshal. Motorists are advised that parking marshals do not have authority to agree to post-paid parking arrangements. A totally different enforcement team monitors non-compliance and clamping happens whenever they spot it.
…PRESIDENT CENTRE AND SOMHLOLO PARK OPERATION
- The President Centre is a gazetted short term off-street paid parking zone.
- Motorists enjoy a 5 minutes grace period at the President Centre. This is meant to accommodate pick-ups, drive-through and buying from informal traders and other businesses.
- Vehicles are scanned on entrance to the President Centre like any other off-street paid parking zone such as the King Somhlolo Park. Motorists are expected to produce the entry ticket to the parking marshal at the exit point. Should the motorist refuse to pay at the exit point or use unauthorised exit points, the vehicle will be considered to be in continued occupation of the parking bay and billing against the vehicle will run until 5pm (Mondays to Fridays) or 2pm (on a Saturday); resulting in accumulation of unpaid fees.
- In the event that a motorist checks-in during the paid parking operating hours and exits after operating hours, a bill of unpaid fees will accumulate against the vehicle until 5pm or 2pm in the case of Mondays to Fridays and Saturdays, respectively.
- Motorists are required to pay only when the vehicle exits the President Centre. On foot payments are not permitted.
- Vehicles that are parked in reserved parking bays are not billed.
- King Somhlolo Park is the only off-street parking zone that is designated for long term (even all day) parking and a E15 fee is applicable for all-day parking. Short time parking is permitted but not encouraged at King Somhlolo Park.
…FREE PARKING SPACE AVAILABLE
Free parking space is available on the outskirts of the green parking zone (paid parking zone) for motorists who do not wish to pay for parking in the city. Furthermore, landlords are encouraged to provide private parking for their tenants or arrange with Eswatini Parking for reservation of parking space. Eswatini Parking, the company that is managing paid parking on behalf of the Municipality, has offices at the Manzini Shopping Mall, shop number 12. The company can also be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 7698 6010/7998 6010 or through its social media platforms. Motorists who need clarity about unpaid fees accumulated against their vehicles are encouraged to contact the company through any of the above contact details.