News Column

Repackaging Abuja's 'Park and Pay' Scheme

May 27, 2014

Francisca Oluyole



On April 17, a High Court in Abuja declared as illegal, the Park and Pay scheme in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in which motorists paid for parking cars on selected streets.

Justice Peter Affen in his judgment said that although the scheme might be seen as an excellent policy, it was not backed by law.

A private firm, Sun Trust Savings and Loans Ltd., had sued the Minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed, and two others, challenging the legality of the scheme.

The plaintiff sought an order declaring the scheme illegal as it was not backed by any Act of the National Assembly.

The plaintiff further averred that the defendants were not constitutionally empowered to collect fees in the FCT without an Act of the National Assembly.

Justice Affen in his judgment said that although the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, could make laws to collect taxes, fees and rates, the 2005 bye-law of the FCT did not contemplate the park and pay scheme.

"I was not fortunate enough to find the park and pay scheme in the 2005 FCT bye-law; what it provided for under Section 118 and Section 119 is the park and ride scheme.

The court therefore restrained the FCTA from collecting any taxes, rates and fees from motorists on the platform of the scheme.

The FCT minister after the judgment called for the suspension of the scheme in the city with immediate effect and enjoined all the operators licenced by the administration to abide by the order.

HE said that the Secretary, FCT Transportation Secretariat, Jonathan Ivoke, had dispatched letters to the operators of the scheme informing them of the development.

He, however, said the scheme was inaugurated to ensure effective traffic management and control in FCT.

Mr. Mohammed observed that while some residents applauded the scheme for ensuring orderliness, sanity, beauty, and reduction in auto crashes on FCT roads, many did not want it.

History of Park and Pay

In 2004, the FCTA called for competent companies to bid for the on-street parking on the platform of Park and Pay scheme.

Out of 36 companies that bided for licences, Integrated Parking Services, IPS, and Platinum Management Parking Services Ltd. were licenced.

The two operators were concessioned and licenced in 2010 to begin operation but did not start until 2012, while the numbers of operators subsequently rose to four.

Some motorists in FCT lauded the decision of the court, while others said it was a good policy but "not properly executed."

Agnes Okoronkwo, a banker, whose car was clamped during the operation of the scheme, said the suspension was a good development.

"My car was clamped on two occasions and I was compelled to pay N2, 000 to the marshals of the scheme before my car was released.

"Secondly, my car was towed to a Park and Pay office where I paid N21, 000 into the company's account for the release of the car," she said.

Kayode Abubakar, a civil servant, also supported the suspension of the scheme, saying: "I know there is more to it than just controlling the parking system; they clamped cars to make money."

Illiasu Abdul, the Managing Director of IPS, said the suspension of the scheme would allow the FCTA to plan for an effective parking system.

"Though it is not easy that we are not working, but the suspension is for the interest of everybody and it will ensure sanity in the scheme," he said.

But Mr. Ivoke, at a news conference in Abuja recently, said the scheme would be repackaged.

He said before the judgment, the administration had begun comprehensive review of the on-street parking scheme.

He said that the report of the review had been produced and contains some guidelines that will enhance the operations of the scheme when it begins again.

"The issue of staffing, fine, violation by the operators, ticketing and auditing of their account, among others, were captured in the report.

"We have started reviewing the bye-law; we accepted the court judgment, the public will be informed of the development arising from the review soon.

"Some people refused to pay because we did not have the provision in the bye-law that could be used to prosecute them, and the court said the bye-law must capture the scheme to make it effective, so be it," he said.

In the absence of the scheme for now, he advised motorists to park orderly in the city, advising that any vehicle that develops fault should be removed from the street immediately.

According to him, the court decision is necessary to ensure the legality of the scheme and strengthen its mandate to achieve the desired results of making FCT free from indiscriminate parking.

(NANFeatures)


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Source: AllAfrica


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