NAIROBI, October 27 – Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi has endorsed a decision by the Nairobi City Council to double its parking fees.,
Mr Mudavadi said on Monday that the new Sh140 charge was justified adding that it was still way below what private companies charged.
“Private bays charge Sh100 for an hour, where one ends up paying Sh500 a day. So if you compare that with Sh140 really there is no issue,” Mr Mudavadi said.
The Deputy Premier argued that the new charges would affect the upper class in society. “We are targeting people with means because somebody with a car which they can park in town is not a poor man and this fee is a very small figure,” he said.
The council has been charging a Sh70 daily fee, with an alternative Sh1700 a prepaid monthly ticket. The City Council is expected to gazette the new fees any time.
The proposal to raise the fees had been floated for sometime along with other major reforms aimed at decongesting the city centre. This hike was passed at a full council meeting on Friday, where civic leaders further resolved to face out parking attendants and to instead sell the ticket at super markets and council booths.
Mr Mudavadi in the meantime defended a move by his Ministry prohibiting local authorities from arresting people found smoking on the streets. He said the councils had misinterpreted the definition of public places as contained in the Tobacco Act in the enforcement of the smoking ban. The Minister said the local authorities were enforcing by-laws without looking at the Tobacco Act which supersedes the by-laws.
“Under the by-laws what you describe as a public place is different from what a public place is within the Tobacco Act. What was happening is that when you are found smoking in your car or in the streets walking you would be arrested,” he said.
He said the ministry was prompted to seek clarification from the State Law Office after receiving numerous complaints from the public some of whom had threatened to sue the Ministry over the issue. “We consulted the Attorney General and indeed he clarified that the way they were enforcing this was really in breach. We found that the City Askaris and their municipal counterparts were overstepping their mandate,” he stated.
Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru were among towns that had banned ‘smoking in public’ and had even gone ahead to create designated smoking areas. The Tobacco Act came into force in July this year and was meant to protect non-smokers. According to the Act retailers could only sell cigarettes in packets of ten sticks. Restaurants, bars and hotels were also meant to designate smoking areas for their clients. An offence against the Act attracts a fine of Sh50, 000 and a minimum of six months in jail. Cigarette companies opposed the new legislation noting that it was going to push them out of business. It was however welcomed by most members of the public.
Mr Mudavadi spoke at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of modern serviced apartments for the Local Authorities Provident Fund. He urged local authorities to ensure that contributions by members are invested and managed in line with the Retirements Benefit Authority guidelines.