HARARE city council authorities have torched a storm among residents and motorists after announcing plans to increase traffic related fines and to authorise parking marshals to clamp vehicles owned by offending motorists.
Residents have quickly dismissed the unpopular move, labelling it as an undue fundraising strategy by the city fathers who stand accused of prioritising salaries as opposed to service delivery.
In a notice placed with the local press recently, the City Council chamber secretary said changes shall come in a proposed amendment of the Harare (Traffic) by-law 357 of 1983.
"The Harare City Council (hereinafter referred to as Council) has proposed to amend the Harare (Traffic) by-law 357 of 1983 and approve the proposed Harare (Traffic) (Amendment Number By-laws 2013," reads part of the notice.
Currently, the city's parking bays are being manned by Easipark which manages the CBD's eastern half bays while the western bays are solely controlled by the council.
If the proposed amendments are approved, this will see the duties of the marshals extended from just collecting parking fees of US$1 per hour of parking to the actual clamping of cars whose owners would have exceeded their allocated time.
Currently, the marshals work in liaison with the city's traffic enforcement teams who hold the clamping powers.
Harare also wants to hike fines for its parking related offences from the current US$57 to US$400.
The proposed move has brought more anxiety among motorists who view the city's traffic enforcement laws as too harsh for the overburdened residents.
Ngoni Katsvairo, secretary general of the Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO), urged resistance against the proposed amendments and called on council to provide more parking space and alternative parking areas to accommodate the city's ballooning vehicle population.
"We objected to increase in clamping fees last time," said Katsvairo. "We suspect that they had a problem and they are now re-advertising the by-law with amendments. They were also charging people towing fees when vehicles had not been towed away. This is daylight robbery.
"In short, we must object in our numbers. We are mobilising kombi operators and we are asking the Harare Residents Trust to mobilise individuals and residents to object to this proposal. They will also be affected more with this traffic parking by law."
The Harare Residents Trust also urged the city authorities to consider the concerns of residents and not impose ideas on them to justify their failure to plan," said the residents group in a statement.
"The city of Harare is not being honest with its stakeholders on the actual intentions of the amendments. They must ensure that their policies are informed by the input of people who are directly affected by the by-laws".
"The HRT views their intervention as ill advised, wrongly premised and only driven by the goal of fundraising without any commitment to improving the flow of traffic, the parking space and empowering communities."
The traffic enforcement system in the city is fraught with corruption and has often seen commuter transport crews and council police involved in dangerous chases in the city centre's teeming streets.