The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) recently commenced enforcement of a park and pay policy which makes it mandatory for motorists to pay a minimum of N50 for 30 minutes to park in marked parking spaces on major streets in the city. In this write up, Catherine Agbo and Kehinde Ajobiewe examine the policy vis- a- vis government efforts to provide standard park and ride spaces
I am in support of the street parking enforcement by government because our vehicles are more secure than before, since the enforcement officers are always there to perform their duties.
I think this will help reduce the rate at which thieves steal vehicles and at times vandalise vehicles to steal laptops and other valuables that are kept inside by vehicle owners”.
This is the reaction of Abdulmalik Audu, a motorist in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over the enforcement of the park and pay policy of the FCT administration, which commenced about two weeks ago.
Abuja, the nation’s capital city has witnessed astronomical population growth over the years since the capital of the country was relocated there from Lagos.
A fallout of the population burst is an increase in the number of cars in the city, causing heavy vehicular traffic, especially along entry and exit points in the city.
As a result of this and coupled with the fact that most public buildings in Abuja have little or no provision for parking within their premises, many motorists are constrained to park their vehicles along the road.
In a move to check the fast growing trend and as one of the ways of generating additional revenue for the development of infrastructure in the capital city, the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed had sometime in 2011, disclosed plans by the government to ban free on-street parking in Abuja.
This was later to come to fruition in December 2011, when the minister accompanied by some staff of the administration flagged off the project at Wuse II.
The minister had explained that when the scheme takes off, all the 5,000 marked parking bays on the streets of the city would attract a parking fee of N50 per every 30 minutes or N650 for a whole day.
Under the policy, defaulters who park wrongly or park on walkways and flower beds would be fined N5,000, while vehicles towed to the parking yard would attract a fine of N10,000 and demurrage of N1,000 for every night the car spends at the place.
The project is being executed by two private companies, Integrated Parking System and Platinum Parking Management Services, to whom the monetised parking space has been concessioned.
With the actual commencement of the project early this month, an average motorist in the FCT would now pay a parking fee of about N14,300 for 22 days and N171,600 per annum or N650 daily. Nearly N1 billion would now be raised from the 5,000 marked parking bays in some parts of the main city.
The greatest victims of this policy are civil servants, as parking within the premises of most offices is now restricted for very few high cadre officials, following the prevailing security situation in the country.
The Secretary, FCT Transportation Secretariat, Engr. Jonathan Ivoke, at a function had said that while the administration has a lot of undeveloped parking lots across the city, they could only be developed through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
He explained that the scheme had been categorised in two zones, even as he insisted that it was neither illegal nor exorbitant.
Ivoke, who argued that the scheme would assist in traffic control in the city, explained that under the agreement entered with the operators of the scheme, they are required to make a remittance of 10 per cent of the proceeds to the administration.
But the policy has been received with mixed feelings from a cross-section of motorists and Abuja residents.
A civil servant, Eugene Obi, said while it was okay for government to charge for services, the current charge was uncalled for, as the standard practice was for the government to provide car parks where motorists can leave their cars and be rest assured that they are secure.
A taxi driver, Damilare Ojo, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the idea was a welcome development for him in as much as it had provided employment opportunities to so many jobless people.
“I’m solidly behind the government on this new development, because this avenue has now provided employment opportunities to people who used to roam the streets jobless.
Sometimes I pay N600 for parking per day, but that is not a problem to me. I am in support of government with its new idea”, he said.
For a driving instructor at Aso Driving School, Jerry Oka, the idea will be accepted by Nigerians when they start seeing what the proceeds from the policy are being used for.
He said, “I partially support this idea of collecting money over parking space. But what about those who cannot afford to pay, we all know that things are hard these days, but if the proceeds can be used well for the benefit of Nigerians then we can fully support the government”.
Oka also added that he pays between N600 to N650 everyday while sometimes he does not make up to that amount in a day. “I stay here sometimes from 9 am till evening, which means I pay as much as N650 everyday while I may not make up to that amount in a day.”
For another resident, who gave his name as Abdulkareem, the new policy has both the good and bad side to it.
“Well it is good and it is bad in the sense that it is ill timed, people are still groaning under fuel subsidy reduction. Besides, the economic situation of Nigeria presently is bad.
People are not happy because the rate is high; you can’t expect people to come to work and pay for parking space without giving enough enlightenment, say three months before the implementation of the policy.
“Most offices within the metropolis do not have enough parking space to accommodate their staff' vehicles, which means they have to pay for parking spaces everyday out of their monthly allowances”, he added.
Even though some residents seem not very comfortable with the development, especially as they do not trust the government to put the money generated from the scheme to good use, it already has the backing of the Senate.
President of the Senate, David Mark, while speaking at an event to mark the 20 years of the relocation of the seat of government to Abuja, last December, urged the FCT minister to take painful decisions, such as charging fees for parking, if the city must generate revenue to develop critical infrastructure.
He said: “For Abuja to be a model city you must take painful decisions. In any case you need to provide enough for things to work in Abuja…I’m saying this so that those in charge of Abuja would embark on initiatives to generate internally generated revenue so that they can provide the facilities that you want them to provide.
The Minister of Abuja should make sure that there are facilities to take care of the pressure and those trooping to Abuja because if care is not taken sooner or later Abuja will be like Lagos. People have to pay for the parking space in Abuja”.
But speaking in an interview, the chief executive officer of Platinum Parking Management Services, Otunba Olusegun Olarewaju, said the scheme was out to ease traffic situation in the city.
He said, “In every cosmopolitan city of the world parking is not free because a lot of factors which include sanity -illegal, haphazard and triple parking are being considered by the government".
On the cost of parking, Olarewaju explained that the cost is very moderate compared to what is paid elsewhere across the world.