Towards his determination to plug all revenue loopholes in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike recently ordered the stoppage of the collection of parking permit from motorists.
Speaking during a meeting with private medical proprietors at Government House, Port Harcourt, the governor hinted of his administration’s readiness to harmonise taxes so as to encourage investors in the State and also have enough financial resources to execute pro-people projects.
Our Deputy Editor (Features), Calista Ezeaku and Photographer, Dele Obinna went round to sample peoples’ opinions on the directive, especially bearing in mind that one major reason for the introduction of parking permit by the immediate past administration was to serve as a source of revenue generation for the State.
Mr Nixon Madume, public servant
Well, it’s a welcome development. I believe it’s something that Rivers indigenes and residents mostly those that have vehicles will benefit from. Most times, parking is a challenge to most motorists here. They don’t have where to park their vehicles and when they eventually get a place to park, they will be asked to pay for parking permit and stuffs like that. Sometimes, they tow their vehicles. You don’t have where to park and when you park wrongly, they will impound your vehicle. So, I praise the state governor for taking that bold step. Yes, parking permit is a source of revenue for a state but l don’t think stopping it will affect the internally generated revenue of this state. There are some other ways of increasing the IGR outside parking permit. If you go to Abuja or Lagos where people always claim that parking permit exists, you will find out that those areas are planned. If you check, most areas in Rivers State are not planned. We are not working with the original plan of the state. That is why we have these challenges. Most of the areas in Lagos and Abuja are well planned. In Rivers State, most of the plans are not working, so you find it very difficult to implement certain policies.
Comrade Tajudeen Owolabi, maritime worker
The issue of stopping parking permit is a welcome development because the harassment in Port Harcourt by these touts in the name of parking permit is too much. Let them fine tune it so that they will come up with a better idea of doing it. The Governor said they are going to work out the modalities on how to harmonize revenue collection in the state. That’s a very good move. We are not saying that parking permit should be removed completely but let the modalities on how best it should be done be worked out because we’ve been getting it wrong. Sometimes you’ll come to work, park your car in front of your office and they will tow your car saying you don’t have parking permit. And to recover the vehicle, you’ll pay thousands of naira. The areas where people can park their vehicles and pay for parking permit should be mapped out and made known to the public. If l go to the market now, when I park l know I’ll pay for parking permit. Not that every day I go to my office and park in front of my office you say l should pay for parking permit.
Mr Evans, taxi driver
It’s a good idea. I like it because here in Rivers State, you can just park your vehicle and before you know it some boys will come and start harassing you over parking permit. And sometimes traffic jam is caused when people that have been given parking permit are allowed to park anywhere they like. So it should be stopped. Before it was introduced about two years ago, the state was generating money internally through other means, so stopping it will not make any difference. Besides, this exercise has been hijacked by touts that you don’t even know who is a genuine person or not. Most times the touts are the ones causing traffic jam and all sorts of wrong things. And whether all the money generated goes into government’s purse is another matter. So its a good thing that the governor has decided to right a lot of wrongs in the state. One thing l want to ask is that the governor should help us by making the genuine people that are collecting revenue for the state to be easily identifiable so as not to engage touts from Marine base and everywhere to be disturbing people. Let genuine people be the ones to collect revenue instead of all these boys that are everywhere.
Mr Levis Ikeme, automobile engineer
It’s a good idea. In the past you had to buy a ticket of N200 for you to park your car. If you failed to that they would impound your car and take it to somewhere else. And this money they collect I don’t know whether it goes into the state government’s account or into their pockets. But to be honest with you, since the governor announced the stoppage of the parking permit, nobody has disturbed me on the road over that issue. So it’s a good idea and if it must be reintroduced, let the government ensure that it is handled by experts so as to avoid traffic jam and all the mistakes made in the past.
Mrs Jane Nwaizu, business woman.
In my own opinion, it was not necessary making motorists to pay N200.00 to enable them park their vehicles on the road. We all know that there are a few designated parking lots in Port Harcourt and you cannot expect people to carry their vehicles on their heads. So in addition to stopping the collection of parking permit, the governor should ensure that the town planning authority wakes up to her responsibility of making sure that builders and property developers adhere to the approved plan of the city. For every public place, churches, markets, schools shops and even residential buildings to be approved, there must be adequate parking space to avoid all these problems.
Mr Michael Joseph, businessman
In the first place, it is not good for motorists to park anyhow along the road. So I don’t have any problem with the payment of parking permit if it government approved. But if it is not permitted by the government it should be stopped. If there are designated places where government has assigned for motorists to park like this POWA park here in Mile 1, it will solve a lot of problems.
However, even if the parking space is approved by government but it is on the road where it obstructs traffic, it is not right. So government ought to stop it. My main concern is traffic obstruction. But if the parking is not obstructing traffic, and we are sure that the money goes into government’s coffers, there is no problem, they should collect parking permit. But if it is an organized collection by touts which is not accounted for, it should be stopped.