There has been an increase in the number of secure guarded car parks in residential areas over the past few years. According to Harare City Council corporate communications manager Leslie Gwindi, this is in part due to the surge in the number of cars currently being imported into the country.
Many vehicle owners, especially in the South-Western suburbs, attributed this phenomenon to security concerns about their vehicles. According to resident Prosper Shumba Mupfawa, using car parks is a good idea because they are cheap, dependable and offer better security than parking cars at home. He said that occasionally he has mistakenly left his car unlocked in the parking lot because it is more secure than it is at home, where one has to take extra care and have extra security apart from walls or fences. Another car owner, Masimba Nyamajiwa, pointed out that most car owners are insured against accidents and not theft hence he opts for car parks since parking at home is risky if you don’t have a lockup garage.
According to one operator who requested anonymity, setting up a car park is a good business venture. Reasonable profits can be made, though he would not divulge the exact figures. He said that some car parks are initiatives by residents to safeguard their vehicles and so they only have security benefits and not financial benefits for the owners. “This normally happens in high density suburbs, especially in blocks of flats, where residents want security for their cars at an arranged fee,” he added. It usually takes effect after both parties agree and with the knowledge of city council and the police. “However some vehicle owners take advantage of this setup and park their cars outside the parking lots to prevent theft under the assumption that we will guard their cars without payment.” He added that it is a system that is beneficial to both residents and car park operators but vehicle owners should register with operators and park in designated spaces.
Harare City council currently charges $0.20 per square metre per month to operators. It costs $1 to park during the day and $1 overnight for small vehicles and $3 for trucks and utility vehicles, a fee that most people thought reasonable.
However, some residents have expressed concern over the increasing number of car parks in residential areas and have called on the city council to properly designate parking spaces rather than issue them to numerous operators. “Council should properly place car parks because most vehicle owners are now dumping their old cars everywhere,” said Harare resident Vusimuzi Mlambo. Another resident of Budiriro, Phineas Mate, is concerned that it is affecting the environment since every open space is being turned into a car park. “Some of the car parks are now encroaching onto wetlands and natural drainage systems,” Mate protested.
According to Harare city council, “There are no designated sites for car parks in the residential areas. Stand sizes in the high density suburbs provide for ample parking space at residential properties.” To date there is no policy that designates places where car parks should be located in residential areas.
Photo: Luckie Aaroni