Johannesburg residents are in for a possible shock as the city considers extending new pay-parking bays to the suburbs.
This comes as Gauteng is battling to come to terms with the issue of e-tolls, due to be implemented before year-end.
On Tuesday, executive mayor Parks Tau, accompanied by members of the mayoral committee, listened to frustrated residents of Parkhurst who complained about the inconvenience and severe effect the pay-parking system had on businesses and the general public.
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The pay-parking system was introduced in Braamfontein in early 2011 and was then rolled out to certain parts of the Johannesburg central business district.
The system was then extended to small nodes within the city in a bid to deter motorists requiring short-term parking from using long-term parking space.
Following the introduction, the city conducted an audit of each node and its unique needs. The resulting proposal was unveiled to the community of Parkhurst on Tuesday.
The city identified 25 nodes that needed new solutions for parking problems in order to increase attractiveness "as nodes of economic development".
Pay parking was seen as one of the measures to be used by the city to achieve the development.
These nodes include Pan Africa in Alexandra, Bellevue, Yeoville, Cyrildene, Mayfair, Jabulani, Midrand, Lenasia, Randburg, Roodepoort, Florida, Rosettenville, Norwood, Melville, Emmarentia, Rosebank, Birnam, Illovo, Parkview, Fordsburg, Greenside, Linden, Rivonia, Craighall Park, Northcliff and Parkhurst.
Mr Tau said it was important for the city to respond to the development in the nodes and the realities that these places were no longer small nodes.
An unmanaged environment would have a negative effect on businesses and residents, he said.
"We can’t shy away from the responsibility to manage the urban environment…. The idea is that there should no spaces that are not managed," Mr Tau said.
But residents of Parkhurst were not happy with the implementation of the pay-parking system in their suburb. The area has a number of convenience shops, bookshops, butcheries, boutiques, restaurants and other businesses.
Caroline McCann, who has owned the Braeside Meat Market for the past 11 years, said the new system had a severe effect on businesses.
Ms McCann said the frustration related not only to the decline in the number of customers visiting the area, but also that no one had taken residents seriously when they raised concerns. She praised Mr Tau for noting what was happening in Parkhurst, but said: "The city should just forget about pay parking. It simply does not work in a suburb. It works in Braamfontein because it’s a city and that’s where it should be."
Cheryl Labuschagne, who represents both residents and businesses in Parkhurst, said the pay-parking system was a problem right from the beginning.
"When you would go buy a litre of milk for, for argument’s sake, R10, you had to pay an extra R4 in order to buy (it). It is a lot of money to add to a cost of one litre of milk. It is not sustainable. People are not visiting local businesses as they used to," Ms Labuschagne said.
Patrons of restaurants had started avoiding the designated areas for pay parking and some had parked in a way that blocked owners’ access to their properties.
She said the City of Johannesburg had not consulted residents adequately before introducing the system.
Other residents at the meeting complained that the metro police department, which was called in to enforce payment of the parking tickets, was intimidating.
The officers were also accused of ignoring other offences taking place on the road and focusing on ensuring that motorists paid for their parking.
Mr Tau assured residents that their input would be taken to the council meeting and considered when coming up with plans for the nodes of the city.
He said it was clear the area needed flexible solutions that would accommodate the diverse needs of the community.