Dar es Salaam. The start of the electronic parking fees system has resulted in a 38 percent jump in revenue collection, two weeks after it came into force in the city.
According to Tanzania Rural-Urban Road Agency (Tarura), the revenue collected has risen to Sh40 million per day from Sh25 million collected previously through the cash payment system.
This shows the advantage of technological advancement, which apart from increasing revenue collection, also helps in simplifying payments as well as increasing financial security. The challenge, however is that government did not do enough to raise public awareness on the new system.
Many city motorists claim to have been caught unawares, when they were notified that they had unsettled car parking fees. Most were not even aware that their vehicles had been charged for parking. Some not even recall where and when they used the service.
Previously, parking fees payment was made in cash after which one was issued with a receipt by officers tasked with the charge. The new system involves scanning the vehicle after which the amount owed is posted to the car owner’s account.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Mr Michael Mallya from Makongo Juu said he was optimistic that the new system would help in collecting more revenue and that it would also increase public confidence that the money they paid went directly to the government.
“The idea is brilliant because it offers security to those tasked with parking fees collection. They risked getting robbed under the cash system. It also reduces inconveniences on the part of car owners who initially had to labour looking for parking officials to pay the fees before setting off. The new system enables you to pay from anywhere at your convenience,” he said.
Mr Mallya however suggested that government should involve the public when introducing new things and give citizens the chance to give their inputs. “In recent days, the government has increased mobile money transaction charges, at the same time they want people to pay parking fees via mobile money services. I think we need more awareness on this.”
Mwenge resident Beatrice Thomas shared the same sentiment. “Yesterday I was at Mwenge and when I returned to the car, I didn’t see any parking fee receipt. The parking official informed me that the system had changed and showed me how to check my payment account. I was shocked to learn that I owed the government Sh3,000.”
Ms Thomas said the system was good but the majority of Dar residents were still in the dark, which puts them at risk of accumulated debts. “We call on the responsible institution to ensure they educate the people before introducing something related to money.”
Mr Alex Leoni from Buguruni said: “The digital migration is the future of the economy and it’s inevitable.” He argued authorities to ensure the system was not abused to disadvantage motorists.
Commenting on the matter, Dar es Salaam’s Tarura regional manager Geoffrey Mkinga told The Citizen that Tarura continues to provide education on the system through various means to ensure every motorist in the city knew how the system works.
“We will provide car owners with information on the amount charged before we start arresting defaulters. We will start issuing reports like other institutions do when reminding their debtors, but citizens should realise that they do not need to pay fees for free parking areas,” he said.
Mr Mkinga said the biggest challenge noted since the introduction of the new payment system is the lack of awareness as people say they were not involved in the change. He however says that government had issued a statement on the transition from analogue to digital technology.”
“Maybe I should be clear on the fact that Tarura has not come up with something new. The tariffs are the same, so we are going with government’s strategy to switch from analogue to digital. In many areas today, the government no longer receives cash payments but payment is done online,” he said.