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A ‘Smart Parking facility’ that makes you gasp!

2018-05-23 00:00:19
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Parking of vehicles in a busy city like Colombo isn’t easy. People have got used to a parking fee being collected manually when parking their vehicles. Charging of this fee is done by municipality workers or authorized private personnel. Municipality employees, in green uniforms and private employees in orange uniforms, have been engaging in collecting parking fees within the city.

The revenue generated through charging of fees, goes to the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). However, it is learned that some issues have emerged in this regard like parking attendants having the habit of stealing money and taking money without issuing a ticket. It is also said that these parking attendants have difficulties in carrying a lot of money and as a result are inconvenienced. Motorists are also complaining that the parking attendants are 

over charging them. These issues have made the CMC to think of ways to resolve these issues.   

Accordingly, the CMC initiated a programme during the tenure of former Colombo Mayor A.J.M. Muzammil (2016) to introduce parking meters within the Colombo Municipality. The project was launched in view of minimizing traffic congestion and also to put an end to errant parking and carry out a proper procedure when collecting fees.   

The Gazette notification issued on July 26, 2017 in this regard, specifies that the project was launched to make provisions for the parking of vehicles, prohibit unathorised parking, provide places for parking, impose a parking fee and establish procedures in apprehending defaulters within the administrative limits of the Colombo Municipal Council.   


Parking meters and charges 

It was decided to fix the parking meters along the Galle road from Galadari roundabout up to Wellawatta city limits, Duplication Road and all by roads and connecting roads as per the provisions of Municipal Council ordinance and by-law and regulation.

One hundred (100) meters have been set up within the city, each of which has the capacity to charge fees for 20 slots. 

Accordingly, Rs.10 will be charged from motorbikes per hour, Rs. 20 from three-wheelers, Rs. 30 from vans and Rs. 50 from buses and Lorries.


Tenders for the Private Public Partnership were called for by the CMC in January 2016 due to the high cost of implementing the project. Accordingly, the tender for the pilot project was awarded to a private company named Tenaga Carparks (Pvt) Ltd, which received the authority to conduct the project, the first of its kind, in Sri Lanka.   

The tender for the ‘Smart parking for Smart City’ was granted for eight years with the cost of implementation borne by the project company, during which earnings are to be divided at a percentage of 40: 60. Thus, forty percent of the income is given to the Municipality, while the company takes the balance.   

The project was scheduled to commence on 2016 January 01. Until the parking meters were installed, parking wardens were deployed on a temporary basis during the first six months. (From 2016 January 01 to July 01)   

Promises to upgrade the facility 
Traffic Engineer at the CMC Manjula Udalamaththe told the  that people have the option of paying by cash or the mobile app (Tenaga Park Smart app) or smart parking cards.   

“Since the Central bank of Sri Lanka hasn’t given the approval yet for the card system, the smart parking card system isn’t available. But we are hoping to establish a card payment option at the site,” Udalamaththe said.   

“It is true that the project does not provide every facility. The main issue highlighted by the users is that they don’t receive a balance if there is any in return and also the fact that coins can’t be loaded. We have discussed the issues with the private company and would provide maximum facility to users in the future,” Udalamaththe added.   

It was stipulated that if a person fails to pay the relevant fee within the first hour of parking, he has to make a payment as a fine. It is learned that people have been complaining that the fine imposed due to this delay is unfair.   

After considering the above fact that the fines are unfair, the incumbent Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake instructed CMC Commissioner on May 18 to suspend all fines charged in connection with the parking meters. Mrs. Senanayake confirmed issuing such a directive via a tweet. 

“The charging of fines would be halted temporarily until necessary amendments are made. It isn’t suspended forever. We will charge fines in a way that wouldn’t burden people,” Udalamaththe said.   

Although the project was launched with all good intention, there have been constant complaints from the general public that they aren’t aware of such parking meters and how they are operated.   

Exorbitant fine  
The Mayor’s instructions came after several motorists publicly complained that they had been slapped with exorbitant fines. The authorities were forced to take note after the recent incident where a man who failed to pay a parking fee of Rs.30 at a parking slot in Wellawatte, was fined Rs.10,120, after a lapse of 13 days.   

The man had parked his car in Wellawatte on April 25 and had forgotten to pay the fee of Rs. 30 via a machine placed near the parking slot.   

The person hadn’t been aware that the payment should be done via a machine. When he found that there was nobody to collect the payment, he had left the place without paying the fee, which was calculated at a rate of Rs. 30 per hour.   

After 13 days, he had been informed by the relevant institution that he had to pay a fine of Rs.10, 120 as he had neglected to pay the necessary amount. The man had paid the due amount accordingly.   
This incident reflects that people have little knowledge about these machines an how to operate them properly. 

That is the very reason to suspend all fines charged relating to parking meters. It was a reasonable decision. But citizens must now see whether this whole process would be beneficial to the whole society.   

Meanwhile, a director of the Tenaga Carparks (Pvt) said that the company would always consider the welfare of the people and added that if any shortcoming occurs in terms of the parking meter machines, they would upgrade the facility.   

Earnings are to be divided at a percentage of 40: 60

 

“There has been criticism over our mobile app not operating at times. But I say with responsibility that it is functioning fairly well and all those are rumours that are being spread to discourage the work done by our company,” the director said.   

“We admit the fact that the balance of payments is not paid in return. It is a known fact that the balance isn’t paid at any parking meter machine in the world. But we are doing our level best to introduce a system to recover the balance payment soon,” he said.   

He said that the majority of people (2800-3000) use the meters to make their payments. A few people (4%) use the mobile app to make payments.   

This incident reflects that people have little knowledge about these machines

Chairperson of the Centre for Environmental Justice, Mechanical Engineer Ravindranath Dabare told the  that the parking meter project wasn’t successful and wasn’t operating properly.   

“If it’s to be effective, it should be approved by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA). The project should come under the supervision of the CAA. It seems that the existing project isn’t functioning in a proper manner,” Dabare said.   

It is true that the project does not provide every facility

“It won’t work effectively as long as the project is merged with a private company. A project like this should be handled by a Governmental body whose objective is the welfare of the general public,” Dabare added.   

This article aims at providing assistance to the people to make them fathom the comprehensive idea behind these machines and the process of using them. 

The main grievance of the people is that they have little knowledge of these machines. As this is a positive move by the CMC, we would like to educate our readers as to how their meters operate.   


  Comments - 11

  • wonderasia Wednesday, 23 May 2018 10:10

    Good DM has published an article on this. Once I tried to pay the parking fee on one of these units located near IFS building in Wellawatte. (Sea side). This system display doesn't have a back light, this making visibility of the contents displayed very low. Also the speed of the system is much slower, even slower than the old age ATM machines. When I pressed a button and nothing happened, pressed it again, the system went haywire. I had to retry several times and finally pay 40/- instead of 30/-, later to notice that the machine doesn't provide balance money. Rules insist the bus conductors to give even one rupee balance money, how come they can turn a blind eye on this issue. Asking to pay within first hour of parking is also not practical, when we go not knowing the exact time of return. If it had a system like in the paid car parks, where you can get a slip at the time of parking and pay when you take out the car for the exact time parked, would be useful and reasonable.

    Reply : 0       6

    Srian Thursday, 24 May 2018 10:34

    Agree with the last sentence. This should have been included in the original system specification.

    Reply : 1       4

    KG Saturday, 26 May 2018 09:50

    Agree with what you say.The machine is very slow. No backlight. I ended up paying more than what is required since machine kept rejecting my notes. When I called the no. They say that you have to calculate time parcked and pay amount at one go.

    Reply : 0       1

    lalu Wednesday, 23 May 2018 12:12

    Another ruse to cheat the public. Most of the parking slots along Galle Rd. are permanently occupied by three wheelers. Not all notes are accepted. Don't return the balance.

    Reply : 0       5

    patriot Thursday, 24 May 2018 13:03

    Machine should accept Rs20 notes and Rs10 coins, if not the project will fail and tenaga will never get their target revenue.

    Reply : 0       9

    Dias Friday, 25 May 2018 21:50

    As parking attendants many poor people were earning a living. Why meters in this poor country. Somebody made money on these meters and collection of fees?

    Reply : 5       6

    Mahila Saturday, 26 May 2018 02:41

    Parking attendants played out money too and did not charge whom they favoured or got bullied.

    Reply : 0       0

    Patriot Saturday, 26 May 2018 00:15

    I happen to work in Dubai. The parking machines don't give you change. It only accepts DH 1 coins. The driver has to decide on how many hours he will pay for. If he pays for one hour and gets a ticket he has to ensure he comes back on time and takes another ticket for the next hour, But, there is another option available. He can pay by SMS. He only sends an SMS to a specific no giving the parking area code, his vehicle no and the no of hours required. Even if he is occupied far away from the parking location it would not matter as he would get an SMS before the time paid for expires asking if extension required. Its a matter of sending a Y or N. Maybe the SL authorities should look into either payment by SMS or by credit card also with an option to extend if required using the same payment mode.

    Reply : 0       0

    Kingsley Wijesinhe Saturday, 26 May 2018 07:29

    I suppose there still has to be an attendant at each meter or group of meters to note down the numbers of vehicles that are parked. Otherwise, how was the motorist who did not pay Rs. 30/- and was fined Rs. 10,120/- identified?The attendant could easily collect the parking fee without any meter being there, as before If there were frauds earlier, that issue could have been addressed separately and suitable control measures introduced.

    Reply : 0       0

    Motorist Saturday, 26 May 2018 13:47

    The machines are not good at all for the reasons below,1. The charge for parking a car should be changed as there is no way to pay 30.00 neither by inserting a note of a higher denomination as no balance/ change is disbursed nor there is a coin slot.2. The display instructions should be in glowing Color such as Green, Red etc.and not the small Black Color lettering which is invisible against the glare and the direct sun focussing on your eyes. Hence the authorities should make these basic changes before reintroducing the law.

    Reply : 0       0

    Abdul Saturday, 26 May 2018 16:38

    if Tenaga or CMC believed that their staff are cheating on them, they should settle their issues, why put that burden also on the poor people, rather they could have fixed CCTV to check their staff than to fix outdated machines, I see some poor people who doesn't even know there is a pay point for parking getting fined double the amount, how can they fine people without informing them that there is a parking system in place?

    Reply : 0       0

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