MBARARA, December 22, 2023 – The Mbarara City business community have expressed concern over the high fees being levied on street parking.
They contend that these high fees are placing an unbearable financial burden on their businesses since they discourage customers from parking their vehicles so that they can shop.
The complaints came to light during a recent engagement hosted by the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group [CSBAG] on local revenue mobilisation.
Aggrey Twijukye, the Chairperson of Uganda Hotels, Western Region, added that most visitors from districts like Kabale, Fort Portal, and Kasese don’t stop in the city to shop because of the high parking fees.
Simon Mwijuka, the Chairperson of the Mbarara City Traders Association castigated the behaviour of street parking officials who place receipts on vehicles and then disappear, leaving vehicle owners waiting for hours. He said defaulting now attracts Shs 50, 000 from the initial Shs 500.
James Ariganyira, a business owner along Garage Street, said high street parking fees in the city has forced motorists to use the Northern bypass, making traders to lose of customers.
Meanwhile, some city dwellers have petitioned authorities, challenging the manner in which the street parking tenderer was awarded to Wood Fix Company Ltd. They aver that Wood Fix has been managing street parking since 2016, with their service being characterised by fraud.
“Since 2016, the city has never invited any bidders in relation to the street parking, yet competent bidders show up, but they are later blocked by some of the city officials, which we condemn,” they argue in their letter to the authorities.
They want the street parking company and Mbarara City Council be investigated on why the tendering position of street parking has never been advertised.
“Our humble request is that we want this city council be investigated why they front one company by proxy. We also want a new procurement process be organised to have a new street parking management,” they say in their letter.
According to Betty Tigefera, the Mbarara city council currently demands Wood Fix Company Ltd arrears of about Shs 51.4 million.
Meanwhile, Sam Rwakinanga, the Principal Revenue Officer for Mbarara City, acknowledged the irregularities raised in the street parking system and pledged to address all the concerns.
He said the analogue mode of paying for street parking will be phased out soon in favour of the new digital system where one will have to pay street parking fees electronically.
“We are soon launching the automation of street parking to address unfairness, irregularities and the management of collecting parking fees within the city,” Rwakinanga said.
on his part, Mbarara City Town Clerk, Assy Abireebe Tumwesigire brushed away the accusations of Wood Fix Company Limited being favoured to manage street parking, saying the current contract is soon expiring, urging those who want to bid to be ready.
“The contract is almost ending, they can compete if they want, you know these contracts are got through competitive process, those concerned citizens should wait and compete when we advertise,” he said.
Mathias Lugemwa of company Wood Fix Company Ltd. manages said failure by the Mbarara City Council to gazette the city’s boundaries poses a challenge to street parking business.
“Even if they terminate our contract and they bring the automation system, they will not even be able to raise the little we have been collecting if they don’t demarcate and regulate the boda-bodas who consume a lot of space in this city,” he added.
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