Outcry over clamping fines hike

Nyasha Mupungu Herald Reporter

Harare City Council’s decision to hike clamping and tow-away fines to $700 with effect from August 1 has been widely condemned, with motorists describing it as outrageous and irrational.

Some said the hefty fines will fuel corruption as motorists will be tempted to pay a lesser amount to a marshal for release of their cars.

Wheel-clamping fines for light motor vehicles have sky-rocketed from $57 to $500, while the tow-away penalty was reviewed from $60 to $700. The development comes at a time many workers are getting low salaries, some equivalent to or less than the clamping fines.

The Herald talked to a number of motorists in Harare, who could not hide their reservations over the decision.

Ms Loveness Chikuruwo said her salary was not even enough to pay the tow-away fine.

“That’s too much and unreasonable,” she said.

“The decision is unreasonable considering the majority’s salaries are still very low. My salary is not enough to pay for towing fines considering that I also have other responsibilities.”

Another motorist Mr Takunda Jeke said most motorists will be forced out of town if the fines were effected.

“Can one be compelled to pay $500 for overstaying in a parking bay for 10 minutes?” he said.

“If I park my car for two hours and pay the required $4, I risk having my car clamped if I exceed the two hours by just 10 minutes.

“That is not fair and the fines are unreasonably inflated. We will end up being pushed out of town.”

Mr Tafataona Shumba said: “A minor offence like straddling a white line while in a parking bay should not attract a harsh penalty of $500.

‘Such a minor offence should not take away my monthly salary. What happens to the welfare of my family after paying the hefty fine?”

Another motorist complained of marshals who disappear from their parking points only to come back and clamp vehicles parked in their absence. “Most marshals are usually not available to receive payment, resulting in motorists parking without paying,” said the motorist.

“Upon return, the marshal just clamps the vehicle and demand $500.

Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme defended the hike, saying it was meant to curb traffic offences.

“Law-abiding motorists have nothing to worry about,” he said. “If motorists pay prescribed parking fees, they will not be affected by the new clamping and tow-away fines. This is about order and following the law.”