Abuja Car Owners Groan Under Park-and-Pay Policy
Since it came into force early last year, the Abuja park-and-pay policy has received a lot of knocks from many motorists and car owners in the territory. This negative perception about the operations of the policy stems from how the managers of this new scheme conduct their activities. It is either that the operators are overcharging motorists or that motorists are forced to make multiple payments in the course of parking their vehicles.
In February last year, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) gave licences to two companies: Integrated Parking Services (IPS) and the Platinum Parking Management Services (PPMS) to operate a park-and-pay system on major streets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Later in the year, other operators: Automaten Technik Baumann (ATB) and NAJEC were added to the list of companies. Under the policy, motorists parking on any major street, especially on are parking- controlled zones, are expected to pay for the period his/her vehicle is to be parked.
The amount, which ranges from N50.00 for 30minutes to N200.00 for four hours on such zones, did not go down well with many motorists in the territory. In many instances, there have been disagreements between the operators and car owners over payment for these charges. Even in some cases, both the agents and motorists have expressed frustration over the new parking policy, resulting in heated arguments.
Last week in Utako, a motorist parked her Toyota Camry car in one of the streets at 2.15 pm and paid for 30minutes before going into the popular Utako market to purchase some items. But when she came back around 3.05pm, she was shocked to find that her car had been clamped by the operators of the park-and-pay service.
On inquiry, she was told that since she had overstayed the period of 30minutes she paid for, her car could only be released after she paid a fine of N5, 000. All pleas from the woman for her to pay for the additional minutes she spent in the market fell on deaf ears as she was forcefully made to pay the fine before her car was released.
Also, in Garki, Area 8, another motorist, John Nnadi, wanted to withdraw some money from one of the ATM stands in the area. He promptly paid for 30minutes to park his car, but on reaching the machine, he discovered that it was not dispensing cash. He quickly rushed back to his car to move to the next street, adjacent to the first street.
However, on reaching the second street, he was confronted by another park and pay operator, who insisted that he must pay for parking or risk having his car clamped. Mr. Nnadi tried in vain to convince the operators that he paid for 30 minutes, which had not expired. He even showed them a ticket to buttress his claim.
But the operators maintained that the first payment was made to a different company, which according to them, did not cover the second company. “Oga, the first place you paid belong to another company. So if you want to park here, you have to pay to our company too or we clamp your car,” they told him. Thus, he was forced to pay again.
Jane’s experience is even more pathetic. She parked in one of the streets at the Abuja Central Business District (CBD) area. At 11.30 am when she parked her Toyota car, there was no operator around the area to demand for a parking charge. After waiting for about 10 minutes without sighting any of the operators, she left her car and went into one of the offices. However, 25 minutes later when she came out, she saw her car, already clamped, which means that she must pay N5,000 before her car would be released.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND’s investigation reveals that this has been the daily experiences of many motorists and car owners on the streets of Abuja since the park-and-pay policy introduced by the FCTA started.
Mallam Iliyasu Abdu, who is the chief executive officer, Integrated Parking Services (IPS), one of the park-and-pay operators, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that the FCT Transportation Secretariat should be held responsible for the inconsistencies in the implementation of the policy. “The whole issue points to the direction that the FCT transport has not got it right in the effective management of this parking policy. The secretariat woke up one morning and gave additional licences to other companies in the same zones already given to us.
“This is the reason why we have seen other companies coming to fight our staff in the same zone that we have control over. The FCT Transportation Secretariat, due to selfish reasons, felt that we are having the most recruitment zones in the city, so they must bring in additional companies to compete with us in the same zone. That is the reason for this multiple payments being experienced by motorists,” he said.
Abdu warned that unless the secretariat comes out to harmonise the policy of park-and-pay among the companies operating in Abuja’s streets, it would be difficult to stop multiple payments and other exploitations in the operations of the policy.
However, the secretary, FCT Transportation Secretariat, Engr. Jonathan Ivoke, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that his office never gave park-and-pay operators any particular zone in the FCT. “What we did was to assign streets to the operators, not zones. We never gave, for instance, the whole of Wuse 2, to any of the operators. What we gave them were some streets.”
Ivoke, who spoke through the public relations officer of the secretariat, Mrs Stella Ojeme, noted that some of the park-and-pay operators in Abuja’s streets are going beyond their bounds, which according to her, is not in line with the agreement they entered with the administration.
She added that there was nothing wrong in having more than one company operating in a particular zone.
In order to reduce the financial burden and embarrassment that motorists in the FCT are subjected to on a daily basis, the Transport Secretariat and operators of this policy should have a rethink. Every policy is expected to have a human face.