IT IS ILLEGAL for any car to be clamped for failure to pay a parking ticket,H-Metro can reveal.While it has been the norm that most motorists have had their cars clamped for failure to pay parking tickets,which is charged US$1 per hour,the City of Harare has been breaking their own law.
According to Harare (Clamping and Tow Away) By-laws,2005,section 4 part(1) on wheel-clamping and towing away:it is stated that”an authorised person may,if he or she has reason to believe that a violation of the Harare Traffic By-Laws,1983,has been committed,immobilize or cause such motor vehicle to be immobilized by way of wheel clamping.
“Provided that no motor vehicle shall be clamped without a traffic ticket having been issued first.”And amongst the offences of contravening the Harare Traffic By-Laws,1983,failure to pay a parking ticket is NOT one of those offences).
“We have been breaking the law knowing fully what we are doing but we have no choice because the bosses have been telling us that we need to get the money.
“If you are to check the by-laws,no car should be clamped for failure to pay a ticket.
“Rather,when a parking ticket has not been paid,a motorist should be fined US$23 which should be paid within 4 days.
“Failure to pay the fine within the 4 days,one is required pay US$46 and failure to pay that amount in 21 days,one then will be issued with summons to appear in court.
“But let me reiterate that no one should be clamped for not paying a parking ticket,so all along I should say we have been breaking the law,”said a traffic enforcement insider who shall remain anonymous.
City Parking,a subsidiary of the Harare City Council has had its parking marshals clamping vehicles in the city,some of them which will Not have been issued with parking tickets first.Harare Traffic By-Laws 1983 schedule,which H-Metro has a copy of,shows offences which can lead to a vehicle being clamped.
“Park motor vehicle outside parking place,not in traffic lane,park motor vehicle on undefined parking place causing obstruction to traffic,park motor vehicle on undefined parking place except at the extreme left on the road,park motor vehicle in parking place in such manner as to cause danger,park any vehicle in a service lane,obstruction of road by any vehicle,”reads some of the offences.
For those offences,motorist can be fined from US$57 and the amount can be more depending on whether the car has been towed away or storage fees accumulate.
And while it has been the norm that some clamping of vehicles was just being done by parking marshals before the issuance of any ticket,the Municipal Traffic Laws Enforcement Act says that only an authorized officer who is described as parking supervisor can clamp a car.
Some City traffic officers have been challenging management on this issue as revealed by a letter written to the Human Capital Director on April 28 2014 which H-Metro is in possession of.
Part of the letter written to the Human Capital Director reads,”according to S.I of 2005,vehicles can only be clamped in respect of violating Harare Traffic By-Laws (offences specified) and not Harare Pre-Paid Parking By-Laws.It has been for quite some time since we noted that and if the public get to know it,Council,may lose millions of dollars through litigation-taking into consideration that in 2012,a certain white man challenged the legality of being clamped for violating a parking a parking by-law yet the law specifies that violation of traffic by-laws only warrant clamping and/or tow away.
The Chamber Secretary consented to refund that person.”
Some officers who talked to H-Metro said they had been breaking the law but they had no choice because they were just told by the bosses that this is one of the council’s cash cow.We have no choice but to listen to our bosses who are telling us that we need to get money but this is now back-firing on us as individuals because some of our colleagues are being arrested and sent to jail on cases of abuse of office.
“All these cases are emanating from the fact that some people are now aware of the provision of the law,”added another source.
The source added,”If you are to check,if a motorist shows that they are aware of the provision of the law,parking marshal or an officer will be reluctant to clamp that car because it will backfire on the individuals.”
Another part of the letter written to the Human Capital Director reads “we are not the custodian of the law,but because we are patriotic,we love our jobs,our council and our country at large,we cannot look and keep quite when system are going the wrong way”.
And the letter also continue on “The Harare Traffic By-Laws,1983,first schedule does not provide for the clamping of vehicles for failure to pay parking fees.”
H-Metro is also in possession of another letter written to the acting Town Clerk dated 5 February 2016 by the Harare Municipal Workers Union where member argued that they had been detailing their concerns on the matter since 2014 but no action was done to correct the anomalies.
In the letter it is being argued by the workers that the continued clamping of vehicles by City Parking marshals is a “legal nullity”.
Workers from the City’s traffic enforcement division are now reluctant to work with City Parking marshals and the issue was even revealed during a recent full council meeting.
It is said that before a car is clamped,city traffic supervisor should first issue a ticket and this is done in liaison with the city parking marshal.
This follows the arrest and imprisonment of several officers (traffic enforcement)who were charged with offences of criminal abuse.The officers were alleged to have “corrupt impounding a vehicle,”and their colleagues say this is all emanating from some of the issues involving the enforcement of by-laws.
And the officers’ arrest and subsequent imprisonment was discussed during recent full council meeting where it was also said that some traffic officers are now reluctant to work with city parking marshals.
“Your worship our officer (traffic enforcement) are no longer doing their job because of these issues of arrests.
“It seems there is a clandestine job action your worship,because the traffic enforcement officers no longer want to work hand in hand with those from city parking,”revealed councilor Peter Moyo.
Another Councillor Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi also said that there might be a need to ensure that by-laws are in sync because “our officers are being jailed.”So it now remains to be seen for how long the City of Harare will continue breaking their own laws which they formulated or we might see them changing them (laws) to suit their requirements.