IT was 10:30 pm and most of the shops at the busy Kisementi Business Centre in Remera had closed. Joseph was heading home after a late shift at office. He branched off to pick some pain killers from a pharmacy at Kisementi. He parked at the entrance of the pharmacy where he spent less than two minutes, but on his return he found a parking ticket placed under the wipers on the car’s wind screen. Furious, he asked the parking attendant why he was giving him a ticket at that hour of the night when he had parked for a minute. The parking attendant could only say “I’m doing my work.”
Joseph is one of the many motorists who have had run-ins with parking attendants employed under Kigali Veterans Cooperatives Society (KVCS), the regulator of public parking in Kigali. Joseph wonders why parking attendants charge people after official working hours, a time when people are just trying to shop for groceries before continuing home.
For Alfred, his encounter with the street parking attendants is a frustration. He says every time he pays for a ticket, they just walk away instead guiding him to join the road from the parking especially in areas with busy traffic. Like Joseph, he also wonders why the street parking charges are not limited to official working hours and days. “For example why should motorists pay for parking on weekends including Sunday,” Alfred asks?
There has been an outcry by motorists in Kigali over the way the street parking in Kigali is managed. Social media is awash with unflattering experiences of motorists with parking attendants.
From failing to trace the attendant when one wants to leave to the attendants being rude and unprofessional, the tales of Kigali motorists and their frustrations with parking attendants are many.
“One can come back from wherever they had gone only to find a ticket on the car’s windscreen and the attendant is no where to be seen. In the end, the driver will suffer with the penalties,” says Simon Kalisa, a businessman.
However, Laban Bizimungu, a cashier faults the drivers over what he calls, ‘complicating a situation which would have otherwise been simple.’
“Park and pay Rwf100 then move on, it’s as simple as that. You shouldn’t whine over such little money which in fact, only helps secure your car,” Bizimungu says.
For Florence Nyirarukundo, a shop attendant, street parking should be streamlined to make it convenient for both the regulator and the motorists.
“Only a minute of parking and you pay Rwf100 for it. Okay that wouldn’t be much of an issue, but the penalties that come with it is a puzzle. Sometimes one is in a rush and waiting for the attendant is hard, and you end up paying high default fees,” she says.
She questions the rationale of giving someone a fine of Rwf10, 000 for defaulting on a ticket of Rwf100. Nyirarukundo says the authorities should introduce simpler payment methods that will help with unintentional defaulting and also the fines should be revised to make them more realistic.
What parking attendants say
Teopista Umutoniwase, a parking attendant based in Kimironko, says that drivers should endeavour to comply with the rules because this will ease work on everyone’s part.
She points out that some drivers are downright rude.
“We face a lot of challenges, motorists are sometimes harsh and tell us not to dare come near their cars and when they do that, we give them space because you never know how they will react. People’s minds are different, one can actually harm you. They chase us away and when they are found later and told to pay the fine, they claim that they failed to get us for payment,” Umutoniwase reveals.“When someone doesn’t pay, we get the receipt and give it to the supervisor who adds it as a debt in the system,” she adds.
Umutoniwase explains that drivers should understand that each hour is Rwf100 and that even if you park for a few seconds, you pay the same amount. However, if that person parks somewhere else before the hour elapses, they are not charged for parking.
Darfose Rudasitsira, another parking attendant, shares a similar experience saying that drivers sometimes are rude, and don’t respect the work of parking attendants.
“Some drivers are offensive and don’t want to pay the parking fee yet they know very well that they are obliged to. And when they are penalised they start blaming us for not being available,” he says.
KVCS speaks out
According to Willy Rukundo, the Director of Operations, Kigali Veterans Cooperatives Society (KVCS), the cooperative responsible for managing street parking, the public isn’t yet aware of the importance of the money collected as parking fees.
He explains that it is a legal responsibility to pay that parking fee because it’s the same money used to maintain those streets. There should be a public awareness campaign to sensitise people on the legal aspects that govern those fees; the campaign is being organised before the year ends.
He notes that the money that KVCS collects at the end of the day goes to the national treasury; and people should understand this and comply.
“If you park in a public place for one hour you pay Rwf100, and if you park for a whole day, you can’t go beyond Rwf500,” Rukundo explains.
For those who complain about missing attendants when it’s time for payment, on the invoice, there is always a telephone number you can use to contact the attendant to pay off the bill, Rukundo says.
He adds that the fine is considered if one doesn’t clear their ticket fee within 7 days and the payment can be done at any KVCS office.
“After one week, the data is fed into our systems and one is taken as a defaulter, and one pays about Rwf10, 000 for every ticket they default,” he says.
Rukundo advises drivers to always keep their tickets to serve as evidence of payment in case they are erroneously recorded as defaulters.
He says that for people who don’t want to be bothered by daily parking routines they can opt for monthly subscription at Rwf10,000, two months for Rwf20,000, three months at Rwf30,000 or 12 months subscription at Rwf120,000
KVCS is also planning on improving payment methods in a bid to simplify the whole process.
“We are also trying to introduce ‘e-payment’ so that whenever one finds an invoice on the vehicle, instead of waiting for the attendant, they instead pay using any mobile money agent and clear the debt. The system will be introduced in two months,” Rukundo explains.
He adds, “Also, at the end of the year ,we want to introduce’ e-parking’ management where by all these parking lots that we have in the city will be inspected and it will help in monitoring.
What can be done to ease the parking process?
When it comes to the parking fee, I believe its fair for every driver to pay. However, the company in charge of parking fee collection should ensure that their people are in place every time a driver starts the engine to drive off. There are cases where the owner is ready to leave but the person with tickets is nowhere to be seen, and this is what brings fines and default payment, which is not fair to the driver since it is not his fault that the agent wasn’t there.
Claude Nshimiyimana, sales person
To reduce the cases of penalties and other inconveniences that come with drivers not paying parking tickets in due time for different reasons, my advice is that the companies in the parking tickets’ business should sensitise people on purchasing monthly or annual membership so that hitches are minimised, and people don’t have to worry whether they have Rwf100 to pay the parking fee.
Maurice Boshya, businessman
The agents issuing the parking tickets are very few. There are times when drivers take it upon themselves to look for them so that they clear their dues before setting off. This implies that the number of the people with tickets should be increased per site so that people don’t waste time chasing someone to pay. This would save time, and also, make the process more effective.
Ildephonse Murwanashaka, mechanic
As of now, I’m happy with the improvement that has been made in the parking tickets department. But still there is need to create awareness and sensitisation on the benefits of buying a monthly package rather than paying on a daily basis. You can park and take a while and by the time you return, the agent is gone. This leaves the driver in fault. I think buying a full package would be more effective.
Jean Pierre Harerimana, mechanic