- The company added that it only had officers using hand held POS machines in areas like Galle Face and Wellawatte
- The late payment fee for a car is Rs. 1500
If you have ever parked along Galle Road, Duplication Road or connecting by-lanes, you would have noticed new parking metres. While common in certain countries for many years, parking metres were installed in Colombo in July 2017. Following numerous complaints, Mayoress Rosy Senanayake suspended charging parking-metre fees in 2018. After editing the structure for fees, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) re-introduced the system in May 2019. But issues of contract irregularities and inconveniences regarding parking metre terminals remain unresolved.
“CMC lost Rs. 32 million”- Sharmila Gonawela
Speaking to the media, Municipal Councillor Sharmila Gonawala charged that the CMC had lost Rs. 32 million in contract irregularities. “According to the agreement between the CMC and Tenaga Car Parks, 160 terminals were to be installed by July 2016.
There are also no proper boards indicating where the terminals are located, which inconveniences the public
It was agreed that if all terminals were not installed by 1 July 2016, a fine of Rs. 30000 per day would be collected from the contractor until all 160 terminals were installed.
Only 100 metres have been installed. To date, the CMC hasn’t collected any fine,” she charged.
She added that there were anomalies regarding rental payments, allowing the CMC to terminate the agreement, which it hadn’t done yet. She said that there were times when terminals malfunctioned, and the public couldn’t make payments. “There are also no proper boards indicating where the terminals are located, which inconveniences the public,” she said, adding that residents in by-lanes had been charged for parking in front of their own houses.
People can get fined up to Rs. 35 000 per day as they aren’t aware that they have to pay for their parking slots
Meanwhile, the Urban Citizens (UC) organization complained of over-charging and a lack of citizen awareness. “People can get fined up to Rs. 35 000 per day as they aren’t aware that they have to pay for their parking slots. The terminals aren’t visible. People have to walk long distances to pay at the terminal, and no boards show us the location,” UC member Mohammed Shamrin remarked.
Tenaga Car Parks
We’ve invested Rs 250 million in the project. In our tender document, we’ve quoted 148 parking metre terminals, but the council gave us 1428 parking bays
The questionable tickets issued by NKH
Responding to the charges Tenaga Car Parks Managing Director Duminda Jayatillake said that the allegations were false and baseless. “We’ve invested Rs 250 million in the project. In our tender document, we’ve quoted 148 parking metre terminals, but the council gave us 1428 parking bays,” said Jayatillake. In keeping with international standards there are 18- 20 bays between two metres, but Tenaga claims its machines have 14 bays or less in between. “The Council approved our proposal for 100 parking metre terminals, therefore we don’t have to pay the Rs. 32 million. Also, we’ve never defaulted on payments. The location of the parking metre terminals and the parking bays were all decided by the CMC,” he added.
We’ve introduced many payment options. There is also a Tenaga Smart Parking App, which helps people locate the nearest parking metre terminal and people could pay using the app
Rehab Ariff, a member of the Board of Directors, said that their aim was to make paying for parking convenient. “We’ve introduced many payment options. There is also a Tenaga Smart Parking App, which helps people locate the nearest parking metre terminal and people could pay using the app,” he said.
He added that the terminals ran on 3G chip and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and the technology helped their command centre to gather information in real time.
“At our command centre, we can see what the issue is with the terminal and immediately dispatch a team to rectify the error. During this period, we inform our enforcement officers to not issue late payment fees,” he noted.
Commenting on the UC complaint, Ariff said that the late payment fees structures were decided by the CMC, and that it was impossible for such fees to go up to Rs. 35000 in a week unless the person was a repeat offender. “The late payment fee for a car is Rs. 1500 if it is settled within 28 days since receiving the citation. This is when the person has not paid for parking at one instance,” he said, adding that
enforcement officers attach the late payment fees structure and the payment system information sheet along with the citation.
According to Fazal Hameed, a member of the Board of Directors, exploitation of parking has led to paid parking. He added that late payment fees were imposed to incentivise the public to pay parking. “We partnered with the CMC to change the attitude of the public towards parking and prevent exploitation of parking which causes extreme inconvenience to many,” he remarked.
We partnered with the CMC to change the attitude of the public towards parking and prevent exploitation of parking
CMC Traffic Engineer Manjula Udalamaththe only commented on the statement regarding paid parking in front of residencies. “According to a Buildings Department regulation, only if a garage is included would the plan for the house be approved. Therefore, street parking is not free. Many people have converted their garages to either extra rooms or for commercial purposes. These by-lanes also come under the purview of the CMC and we are able to charge for parking in front of houses. These owners don’t own the part of the road in front of their houses,” he explained.
Commenting on technical issues, he said that the CMC was looking at fixing them and urged the public to send emails or visit the CMC if they had complaints or faced any discrepancies. “Since we have real time terminals, we are able to check irregularities if a complaint is made to us,” he said. The CMC refused to comment on Councillor Gonawela’s allegations.
Fee Collection Scam
Daily Mirror learned that near Sri Lanka Law College, Staple Street, Viharamahadevi Park and the Dutch Hospital, certain individuals harassed vehicle users who parked and forced them to pay fees for parking, even though no parking metre terminal is installed.
Law College students complained they could not park vehicles to attend long lectures as the hourly parking fees were exorbitant. “They say that they are from Tenaga. But the tickets they issue say NKH,” revealed a student.
Tenaga responded by saying that it only operated along Galle Road from the Galadari Roundabout to Wellawatte City Limits and Duplication Road from Liberty Roundabout to Dharmarama Road, and all by-roads and connecting roads. The company added that it only had officers using hand held POS machines in areas like Galle Face and Wellawatte, where the vehicle turnover is high.
Tharushith (20) said that the parking metre was a good initiative to minimise exploitation involving parking, but awareness signs and boards had to be installed. Erendra Chrysanthus (35) suggested that it would be best if more terminals could be erected within a shorter distance. “It’s ridiculous that people have to pay for parking right in front of their own homes. When visitors come for a short time, or even family members come to stay for days, they cannot park their vehicles. In the UK, there is free parking in front of houses, especially on by-lanes. The CMC is exploiting residents,” said Shenella Pieris (32), adding that the garage could only fit the resident’s personal vehicle.
Alina Gunasekere (27) opined that while the move has made many people use public transport, the public transportation system wasn’t efficient. “It seems like CMC has monetised parking for its benefit,” she said.
While the public has mixed opinions regarding parking metre terminals, there is much to be desired regarding public awareness and signage. CMC’s silence regarding the allegations is a cause for concern. Taxpayers pay for parking, and it must be carried out efficiently in a transparent and just manner. The CMC must also apprehend scammers regarding parking tickets, because taxpayers are inconvenienced and exploited.