Over the past couple of days and weeks, Harare City Council has been on a vehicle clamping spree. It seems a lot of people are getting ambushed by municipal police who pounce within about of minute of them parking their vehicles. Their cars are then getting clamped and towed away within this short space of time. Once the vehicle is towed away they are then asked to pay an astounding US$130 in fines for the vehicle to be released. In comparison parking in Harare is roughly US$1 per hour.
The problem is that it almost seems like the whole thing is a setup. Most of the time parking your vehicle is not hard all you need to do is find an open spot, park your car, find a City Parking employee, pay your parking fee and then go about your business. Unfortunately sometimes when you park the City Parking employee is nowhere to be seen and some people saying when you go looking for her, you will return to see a clamped car. Sometimes you are told the swipe machine they use is down, go into a shop for a few minutes only to find your car clamped with you facing the U$130 fine.
This has become such a problem that there has been a deluge of complaints about this on social media. The minister of Local government has also set up a committee to try and investigate the issues that have been reported. The Mayor of Harare, Jacob Mafume has also announced a press conference about the issue:
We have noted concerns of the public on this issue .We will be calling a Press Conference tomorrow together with city parking to announce the recommendations we have received from the public .We have to strike a balance between the fines and what people can afford.
Here is how to avoid getting clamped
We are not really sure why there is an upsurge of clamping cases but some of the reasons are given above. People are finding it hard to make payment for one reason or another and for some reason they are unable to get hold of the parking attendants. That can be easily fixed. All you need to do is use your phone or the City Parking app to pay your parking fees. This means even if there is no City Parking employee available or if they tell you swipe is not working you would have already paid up your parking so those muscular city police officers have no choice but to saunter back to their hideaway.
Here is how you can do it:
- If you have a smartphone you can download the Android App here.
- When you find a parking spot, open the app, enter your car registration and pay through the app.
- You will be told how much time is remaining to be careful to top-up before this time lapses.
- The app warns you if your time is about to expire
- If you are on any other phone you can dial *194# and follow the prompts there
This makes it easier to pay even when there is no assistant to help you, you can also even prepay and avoid clamping. It is likely this blitz will end at some point but do not let it end after you have lost US$130