Forum for issues relating to Parking in Africa including business opportunities.
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Is It Fair to Charge for Parking in Nigeria?
The simple reason why most of us think this way is because most Nigerians has never been properly educated about parking and its effects on our roads.
Most Nigerians feels that parking is a right not a privilege but then what do we say about driving? It's also amazing to know that even in the current Nigeria Transportation Policy (draft), hardly is the word parking made mention of in the 59-page document. In overseas, parking is a big business managed by professionals. In US alone last year over $20 billion was estimated to have been generated as parking revenue. It's shocking to know that even as Nigeria is considered as giant of Africa, very little has been done in this regard. We complain daily of high employment but still our leaders and politicians seems clueless on how to increase Nigeria GDP and create more employment opportunities for the so-called masses.
Even our so called city planners and professors of strategic planning and transportation do not have full understanding of the effect of parking in our society. For the past 6 months i have been reading through some literature written by our university scholars on traffic and transportation issues in Nigeria but very little emphasis is placed on parking and its initiatives. Nigerians needs to be well educated about parking, its effect on traffic and its environs. This is a goldmine that only few of us that have worked overseas at the very senior level understands but to average Nigerians they don't know how "it" can directly bring them wealth and indirectly enrich the nation.
Let us make some clarification, driving is not a constitution right rather a privilege. People choose to drive not force to own a car and if this information is factual, then people must be able to pay the price of parking or at the very least make provision for their own parking. Again, what do we mean by the word "Parking"? A vehicle either in stationary or standing position is said to exhibit the phenomenon of parking. Very soon in FCT Abuja, Nigerians will experience for the first time parking management services and from all indications, if all things goes well many parking meters will soon be installed in major strategic areas in the federal capital territory for motorists to be able to parked legally or otherwise face the consequence of being issued with a fine or what is called "Penalty Charge Notice" (PCN). There will also be an opportunity for legalized on-street residential parking via the use of Residential Parking Permits (RPP).
Back to the question, yes it is fair to charge for parking. The major reason why we have vehicle spillover causing major traffic on our roads is due to lack of effective parking management initiatives borne out of parking regulations and the fact that parking is free in most places. The cost of providing parking as an infrastructure is pricey therefore this cost should be borne by those that make use of the infrastructure. Just as Donald Shoup who is arguably considered by most professionals in the industry as the "Greatest Parking Professional) said in his book titled "The high cost of Parking". You don't buy a pair of shoes and expect someone else to provide you with a storage for it. You make your own provision at your cost and maintain it. To some in developed countries, parking meters are ethically akin to pay toilets. If people "need" parking, won't pricing it necessarily harm the poor? But the fairness of charging for parking has to be considered in comparison to the alternative, which is "free" parking made possible by minimum parking requirements for all land uses. Minimum parking requirements can make parking appear free just as we have in Nigeria, but the cost does not disappear; rather, it reappears as higher costs for all other goods and services, especially housing.
A case study from Oakland, California shows how minimum parking requirements raise the cost of housing. Wallace Smith (1964) studied a sample of 64 rental housing projects developed within four years before and two years after Oakland introduced its first off-street parking requirement for rental housing. Before 1961, Oakland's zoning ordinance did not even mention off-street parking in residential districts. In 1961 the zoning was changed to require one off-street parking space per dwelling unit for all apartments developed after that date. As a result of the parking requirement, the number of dwelling units per acre in new developments fell by 30 percent, and the construction cost per dwelling unit rose by 18 percent. Even including the cost of the newly required parking spaces, housing investment per acre declined by 18 percent. Land values fell even more (by 33 percent), because the land was suddenly burdened with a new requirement to provide parking that residents did not pay for. Property tax revenues also declined, because both land values and construction investment declined.
Why did their developers reduce housing density by 30 percent in response to a minimum parking requirement of one parking space per dwelling unit? First, developers said the requirement made previous densities impossible without expensive underground garages, so the cost of development at the previous density greatly increased; therefore, they reduced density and devoted more land to surface parking. Second, developers said that adding a dwelling unit required another parking space, but enlarging a dwelling unit did not; therefore, they built fewer but larger units. All architects and developers know of similar situations where minimum parking requirements dictate what can be built, what it looks like, and what it costs. Form no longer follows function, fashion, or even finance; instead, form follows parking requirements.
From the above case study, it is doubtful that "free" parking benefits the poor when the hidden costs of the consequent minimum parking requirements are considered. Because the cost of providing the required "free" parking is incorporated into the cost of all other goods and services, parking requirements force the poor to pay for parking regardless of whether or not they own a car. Some may argue that automobiles already pay for public roads through gasoline taxes, so charging for curb parking is unfair "double taxation." But automobiles use gasoline only while they are moving, not while they are parked (unless evaporative emissions, which pollute the air, are considered). The more a car is parked, the less it pays in gasoline taxes, so gasoline taxes clearly do not pay for parking spaces, and charging for curb parking is not unfair double taxation.
A separate equity issue is whether it is fair to charge market prices for curb parking in older commercial areas where small businesses rely on curb parking for their customers. Recall that the goal is to price parking to yield about an 85 percent occupancy rate so motorists can quickly find a place to park near their destination. A lower price is called for if there are too many vacancies, and a higher price if there are so few vacancies that motorists must drive around to find a place to park. The total number of curb spaces will not be reduced. Instead, market-clearing prices will reduce the number of parked cars by only enough to create a few curb vacancies, so a parking space will never be hard to find.
My priority is to help solve some of the perennial issues causing traffic congestion in Nigeria if allowed and also to bring expertise and professionalism to this lucrative field that is yet to be fully understood by Nigerians. If you like to know more about professional parking and how you can invest in this goldmine, please feel free to leave me a message including you email address or phone number and i will contact you privately.
Lets take a cue from South Africa whose parking industry last year alone contributes about 8% to its GDP and this figure is predicted to rise for this year. More so, traffic congestion has reduced to about 30% in major parts of South Africa with the introduction of regulated parking via parking management practices. Our government needs to create enabling environment for foreign investors to come in and invest in this goldmine that is currently hardly recognized in the country. I will like to see professional parking fully developed in Nigeria in the next 5 years and for the country to regain its status in the continent as the "Giant of Africa".