In Summary
  • Parking inspectors used to walk down the street checking for cars parked next to “expired meters” and issue parking fine notices on their windscreens.
  • Many of the parking meter poles are still in place in Nairobi!

Long ago, motorists used to pay parking fees through parking meters. These were coin-activated, mechanical timers located along the streets adjacent to all designated spaces.

The meter would indicate the duration purchased and then a mechanical clock would count down the remaining time.

Upon reaching the end, a red plate would be displayed on the screen.

Parking inspectors used to walk down the street checking for cars parked next to “expired meters” and issue parking fine notices on their windscreens. Many of the parking meter poles are still in place in Nairobi!

For some inexplicable reason, the city authorities were unable to keep the parking meters in good serviceable condition and, gradually, the idea of collecting parking fees died out for several years.

When it was revived in the late 1990s, the hourly charges were abandoned and replaced with a flat daily rate. Monthly and quarterly rates were also introduced.

Starting from Sh50, the daily fee has progressively increased to the current Sh300.

 In addition, the method of collecting the money has also moved away from cash payments and manual receipts to mobile phone money and electronic receipts, respectively.

It is an open secret that there is a lot of corruption in parking fee collection. Many motorists pay off parking attendants a small inducement to look the other way for a couple of hours instead of paying the Sh300 daily amount.

I think an hourly parking charge system can help solve this challenge.

Parking fees are collected between 8am and 5pm; that is, a nine-hour shift. So, if an hourly rate of, say, Sh50 was introduced, the county government would collect Sh450 from one space. This is 50 per cent more than the current Sh300.

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