Newly installed parking meters

10/09/2018 10:36

Finding a proper parking space in central business districts and localities around towns and cities can be stressful.

A good parking spot with a good parking meter can be a relief for most motorists, especially during rush hour in the morning.

Meters allow efficient and organized parking and provide public revenue for municipal councils.

Getting roadside parking spaces in the central business district can be hectic and is on a “first come first served basis”, especially in the morning.Some motorists use these spaces for the whole day while others may use it for a few hours only.

Fiji is not alone in this as this is a global problem for motorists.However, there are instances where consumers waste both their valuable time and money on defective parking meters.

This can be a source of immense frustration to drivers who are slapped with a parking fine all because of a defective parking meter.

The Consumer Council is concerned that there may be cases where municipal authorities are installing parking meters that have not been calibrated and certified by the Department of National Trade Measurement & Standards.

Municipal councils have a duty to ensure that any parking meter machines within their municipalities are fully functional and have been calibrated to ensure that honest rate payers are able to have peace of mind and avoid unnecessary Traffic Infringement Notices.

One such complaint was lodged with the Consumer Council in relation to the newly installed parking meters opposite the Lami Town Council office.Mr. John was in Lami Town to run some errands.

After finding a suitable parking spot, he placed coins in the new parking meter to pay for his parking space.

However, to his surprise, the machine swallowed the coins but failed to produce a parking ticket.Mr. John said visible displays were shown on the screen and there were no notices on the parking meter to inform the public on whether the meter was out of order or not.

Frustrated at the inability to get a ticket, he contacted the Consumer Council.The Consumer Council liaised with the Lami Town Council. It was discovered that the machines were installed in March but was facing technical issues.

The Town Council failed to switch-off the machine and it is apparent that the meter may have obtained money from the public without issuing receipts. Consumers had been ripped-off and motorists may have copped unnecessary parking tickets last month.

According to the Department of National Trade Measurement & Standards the meters were not calibrated and could not operate without their stamp of approval. Using unstamped measuring instruments is an offence under the National and Trade Measurement Act 1989.

This meant that for more than 3 months the Town Council was taking money from compliant rate payers by using parking meters that were not certified by the Department of National Trade Measurement & Standards.

The Town Council claimed a notice written on an A4 sheet of paper was placed on the machine advising the public that the machine was out of order, however it kept getting removed. The Council further stated that enforcement officers were around the area to inform the public of the machine not being in operation.

The Consumer Council maintains however that appropriate measures must be taken by municipal councils to ensure that all parking machines are functioning and properly calibrated before they are installed so consumers are not duped.Ratepayers who are utilizing the parking machines must be given fair warning on whether machines are faulty or out of service.

The Council received a similar complaint from a consumer who slotted coins in a parking meter machine but it failed to produce a receipt and the consumer claimed the wrong time was displayed on the parking meter.At time of inspection, the Council also noticed that the coin slot had coins in it, which means that the machine was holding consumers’ money.

The Town Council was advised to ensure that the coin slot is covered so consumers do not place coins in them and also to place stickers informing the public if that machine is out of order. Consumers should take heed of such notices and use alternative parking meters to get their parking ticket.

Consumers should also contact their respective municipal councils if they experience the same situation. Make use of the contacts available on the parking meter to inform the town council if the meter has swallowed your money and has not produced parking tickets.

The Consumer Council also advises consumers to call the Council’s toll free National Consumer Helpline on 155 if they have similar complaints.

Please note that the Consumer Council of Fiji has now moved to Level 5, Vanua House, Victoria Parade, Suva