Colombo has a smart car parking system.
Do we all know enough about it? Honestly, the amount of information and awareness that has been created around this is rather inadequate. As a result of this many vehicle owners are inconvenienced for very avoidable reasons. The best example is of Rashmini De Silva who quoted that she parked her car in Wellawatte. She had seen no parking attendant or sign in sight, or a meter for that matter. However, when she returned after a couple of hours, she had a parking fee violation note stuck to her windshield and was in for a bad surprise when she went to the car park company about four days later and realized that she now has to pay Rs. 6000 total with delayed payment charges included.
Another example; Suraj Pathirana parked his car at the Galle Face and went to the nearest parking meter for the payment where he realized he would have to pay 20 rupees per hour even though the actual price is just 10, because the machine did not accept 10 rupee coins and only accepted notes. Let’s face it? How many 10 rupee notes have we seen recently?
Since recent, motorists of Colombo have been facing a lot of confusion because of the lack of public awareness on electronic meters, fuel confusions and the lack of change at toll machines where also, clearly coins are not accepted. These solar-powered pay-by-plate parking meters are found in several designated areas in Colombo and have been launched by the CMC and Tenaga Car Parks (Pvt) Ltd under a public partnership that was signed between the two parties in 2015.
Tenaga Car Parks (Pvt) Ltd was established in 2003 and is Investment Board Approved, with an operation in Malaysia. In 2009, the Sri Lankan arm bought over the Malaysian one and today, the company is 100% local. The Director – Engineering Traffic Design and Road Safety at the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), Nihal Wickramaratne, stated that the whole point of outsourcing this was the lack of resource capabilities within a local authority to carry out operations effectively on its own, factoring in also, that the CMC has accrued losses in previous such endeavours.
A lack of public awareness
The Director of CMC also states that he feels that despite this been advertised on newspapers and signage having been used, he fears that the lack of public awareness is a real issue. He also stated that 36 meters is the most distance that a parking machine has been fixed from a parked vehicle, he said that motorists should pay attention and not simply give excuses that a machine wasn’t in sight. He also said that there are large boards that say ‘Pay Point’ and that the company is in the process of increasing the exposure that they have by using more signage on possibly every lamp post.
Enforcing the law The Gazette No-2029/29 published in July last year held the smart parking and fee collection system laws as given by the CMC, and indicated that;
- Parking without payment and parking for longer than authorized will incur a penalty fee
- Clamping will be put into action if the payments are not settled
- As quoted, “Under the updated gazette, if the late fee is not paid, from the second day, up to 14 days, for one day or a part of a day, Rs 360, Rs 720, Rs 1,080, Rs 1,800, Rs 500 and Rs 850 will be charged for motor bicycle, motor tricycle, a motor car, or dual-purpose vehicle, buses or motor coach or lorries, school vans and school buses respectively. Thereafter, for one month or a part of a month, Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000, Rs 7,000 and Rs 12,000 will be charged as late fees respectively for the above vehicles.”
- Action will be taken to recover overdue and arrears fees. If this reaches more than 50,000 court action will be pursued.
The authority to determine late fees or penalty and devising or formulating of the same remains within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Councils and Municipalities and not Tenaga.