Newcastillians were outraged in June 2019, when the Newcastle Municipality announced that the once free parking in the CBD was to become a thing of the past as of 1 July 2019. At an event, the municipality welcomed 74 car marshals, all of which would be employed by Traffic Management Services (TMS), the service provider awarded the parking tender in May 2018.
After being awarded the tender, TMS began with infrastructure development and the installation of sensors in the CBD. The purpose of the sensors was to detect if vehicles were parked in metered bays and for how long, after which the motorists would be charged accordingly.
At the time of the launch, it was stated that the project would contribute to the economy and bring about a certain degree of order within the town. However, the initiative was met with contempt by the community, with residents, businesses and car guards continually voicing their concerns regarding the negative impact the new system had on them.
Fast forward to 2021; the paid parking system has fallen into obscurity, with not a car marshal insight. But according to Chief Traffic Officer Ashok Anandhaw, there is a valid reason. “The mechanical nature of the system and its consequent labour-intensive methodology implies a lot of interaction with the public, especially by taking monies and issuing parking display tickets. This is a serious health risk during this Pandemic.”
With this in mind, he states that it is safe to say this type of system has been halted throughout the country. “It is not practical to record everyone who the marshalls come into contact with, without delaying them.”
Furthermore, Anandhaw points out that the system was not rolled out in all CBD areas due to the resistance experienced, contributing to the company’s financial losses.
Moreover, he highlighted that vandalism and theft of equipment, plus attacks on the marshals, also slowed down the progress. “At this stage, all sensors are derelict.”
But the question on everyone lips is how much money did the Newcastle Municipality spend on the initiative? “By virtue of the type of contract, Newcastle Municipality did not endure any losses as there were no payments made to the service provider,” clarifies Anandhaw.
He adds, “The company (TMS), in its best interest, is exploring alternatives and benchmarking other parking management systems, which will be conducive for the current health climate. The success of any system will be dependent on a buy-in from business, support by the public, and vigorous law enforcement.”
When questioned on whether the system will be brought back or not, Anandhaw explained, the Newcastle Municipality is currently waiting for responses from the service provider in this regard. He concludes, “The sooner a lucrative system can be found, the quicker it can be introduced.”
As alternatives to the systems are now being sought, what are your thoughts?
Share your views in the comment section below.
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