In the next few days the City of Harare will be rolling out a new prepaid electronic personal parking meter (PPM) system, Smart Park, to replace the current parking discs and eliminate the use of cash at its parking spots. This was disclosed by Francis Mandaza, the City Parking Customer Care Officer.
The PPM is a small palm-size device which is preloaded with units equivalent to one’s prepaid parking time and is attached to the front driver side window for parking inspection. It is identical to the EasyPark model used in the USA although City Parking claims this is the first time it is being used on the African continent.
When parking in a metered parking area, the user switches the meter on and selects the city zone (the rates are different according to zones) and “activates” the meter to start running. When leaving the parking area, the driver simply deactivates it and switches it off.
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Vehicle owners will be able to purchase the PPM and prepaid parking at any of the City Parking outlets. The parking marshal simply inspects the device to see that it is paid up and valid in the same manner they are used to with parking discs.
The PPM was mainly introduced to move with technology and introduce convenience to drivers. The same device can be used on several registered vehicles which is a plus for corporate customers and can be disabled remotely in the case of theft. It also allows the City to cut back on the costs of paper for the parking discs that are discarded after each use.
One of the challenges that the City is also trying to address is the loss of revenue through corrupt tendencies by its marshals who accept bribes and take cash from vehicle owners for unlimited parking time. This has been a large drain as currently drivers can pay $3 for a whole day which would normal earn the City up to $8.
For drivers, this device allows them to only pay for the time actually parked as opposed to the hourly charges currently in place part of which is never used.
This is a smart move by the City of Harare and we hope they will in the future eliminate the need to visit their prepaid parking outlets by simply linking the account to the various mobile money options for topping up.