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Court Declares Abuja Electronic Parking Policy Illegal

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday declared the park and pay policy of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, illegal, saying it has no law backing its operations.

Justice Peter Affen, who made the declaration in deciding a suit brought by a private savings and loan firm in the city, also ordered the immediate stoppage of the park and pay policy.

Over a year ago, the icirnigeria.org published an expose on the illegal and dubious electronic parking policy which generates revenue for the FCTA, by robbing motorists. The story titled How FCT Robs Residents Through Illegal Parking Policy, established that the FCT administration was operating the policy without the backing of any known law.

Two weeks ago, worried by repeated complaints by members of the public, the House of Representatives passed a resolution mandating its committee on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to conduct public hearing on the sham policy.

The House committee’s investigation into the process of the award of contracts and operation of the policy in the territory, followed a motion by Bitrus Kaze (PDP-Plateau), entitled: “Need to investigate the concession of Park-and-Pay Policy in Abuja Metropolis” where the lawmaker expressed concern over the “harassment and unruly” conduct of agents of the companies in the discharge of their duties.

He said the policy which was introduced in 2012 required motorists to pay fees ranging from N50 and N100 to park their vehicles on designated streets for periods ranging from 30 minutes upwards between 7 a.m. to 7p.m.

He explained that the implementation of the policy was contracted to privately owned companies whose agents indiscriminately clamped and towed vehicles which could only be reclaimed on the payment of “huge sums” of money.

The lawmaker said the policy had metamorphosed into an avenue of exploitation, fraud and other forms of sharp practice and that the concession, management and operation of the electronic ticketing and parking regime were being implemented without clear and defined legislation.

In the story published on February 26, 2013, this website had revealed how each of the companies operating the park and pay policy generates between N750, 000 and N1 million daily from issuing parking tickets to motorists in the metropolis, with only 40 per cent of the revenue deposited into the coffers of the FCTA.

Our findings further revealed that only one of the four companies registered for the business has any experience or track record in e-ticketing or electronic parking, and still yet there is no legal backing for the activity.

Three of the companies are Automaten Technik Haumann Nigeria Limited (ATB), Safe Parking Limited (SPL) and the Integrated Parking Services limited, (IPS).

Registration documents at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, showed that the ATB is partly owned by the a Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, same name borne by the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

It was gathered that the parking policy came about after some private sector businessmen approached the FCTA with a proposal to help it increase its internally generated revenue, IGR.

The proposal was that by structuring the parking of cars in Abuja and issuing tickets to parked cars, a lot of money could be generated.

The proposal also indicated that knowing how lawless Nigerians could be, a great deal of money would be generated by clamping the cars of offenders and fining them.

Without any legal backing, the FCTA approved the proposal and went ahead to the register four companies to execute the parking policy. Our findings show that huge sums were expended by the administration in demarcating parking areas and erecting toll information signs in several parts of the metropolis.

The companies have made virtually no investments but are taking 60 per cent of revenue generated.  Investigations show that they are expected to have installed e -ticketing machines that would issue tickets as well as parking signs with instructions to motorists but none has so far done so.

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