Motorists face a heavier financial burden in Nairobi as City Hall lines up hourly parking charges within the central business district (CBD).
Nairobi’s Finance and Economic Planning Chief Officer, Halkano Waqo, said the hourly charges will help boost revenue and deal with choking traffic, which costs motorists time and fuel.
The hourly rates are yet to be set and would be subject to approval by the County Assembly before implementation. Motorists are currently charged Sh200 daily parking fee to park in the city centre.
“As a growing city we have to explore all the mechanisms to decongest the city as well as get revenue for the county," he said, adding the hourly fee will discourage collusion between motorists and parking attendants.
"It will be easy paying Sh50 for two hours and if like 300 vehicles park for an hour or two and go then it means these spaces will be available for the other motorists," he said.
City Hall has been losing millions every month in parking revenue in the wake of collusion between parking attendants and motorists to avoid paying the Sh200 daily fee.
Attempts to double the fee to Sh400 was resisted by some motorists, with the matter still pending in court.
Like other world cities that are becoming more congested, the direct and indirect costs of parking have become a nuisance for motorists and policy makers in Nairobi who often have differing goals.
While drivers want cheap, abundant parking spots, city councils are grappling with ways of discouraging congestion and maximising fee collections besides cutting air pollution.
In Nairobi, council authorities have over the years faced a double challenge of congestion and revenue leaks perpetrated by cartels who took advantage of the chaos to profiteer.
A 2020 report by Nairobi County Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations committee laid bare how parking attendants are colluding with motorists to deny the county government billions of shillings.
The report revealed that Sh437,500 was lost every day from on-street parking alone, with many motorists parking in the city centre without paying any fee to City Hall.
A 2019 report by Nairobi Assembly Public Accounts Committee revealed that in the financial year ending June 30, 2017, a total of 1,305,440 vehicles parked in the 6,125 slots during the financial year but only 402,401, representing 31 percent, paid for parking.
City Hall collected a paltry Sh1.55 billion in parking revenue in the financial year ended June 30, 2020 against a target of Sh2.8 billion. This represented a performance of 53 percent.
In the current financial year, City Hall had realised a measly Sh4.1 billion (24.8 percent) by the end of the first half of the financial year ending June 30, 2021 against an annual target of Sh16.5 billion.
During the period, parking fees had returned Sh685 million of the annual target of Sh2.8 billion, representing 24.5 percent of the target.
Mr Waqo said the hourly parking charges are projected to lower traffic congestion within the CBD and boost revenue collection.
To enhance revenue collection from the revenue stream, City Hall proposes improving supervision, increasing enforcement as well as expediting the construction of sunken park to increase their revenue pool.
"Apart from the above mentioned interventions, the county government will also leverage on technology that offers integrated electronic system for all revenue streams as well as sealing off of leakages," City Hall said in its fiscal strategy for the year ending June 30, 2022.
In 2019, Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) passed a motion calling on the county government to introduce hourly parking charges for motorists in the city centre to cushion those parking for a short duration of time.
The ward representatives said having hourly parking charges would make paying for the service more attractive to Nairobi motorists hence more revenue for the county government with proper enforcement.
In July last year, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) began automating parking facilities in the county in preparation for the introduction of hourly parking in the CBD.
It said it had already automated Sunken Car Park, Nairobi Law Courts Parking, Desai Road and Machakos Bus Station in line with the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to have automated hourly car parking facilities in three areas in Nairobi.