Nairobi plans a shift to time-based on-street parking (from today's flat-rate per day fees)
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Brief summary of this reform
Nairobi has proposed making its on-street parking fees duration-based (time-based) with a per-hour price. This would be a huge improvement on the existing flat rate per day regardless of parking duration.
The city already has a mobile/digital payments system and the basis for effective enforcement but loopholes in how these actually operate will also need to be closed if the duration-based fees reform is to succeed.
Why should you care?
Cities, like Nairobi. which currently have a flat fee for all-day on-street parking, should certainly shift to time-based fees.
This mundane-seeming change is very important. A fee-per-hour can improve street parking conditions by discouraging long-duration parking in prime locations.
By contrast, flat-rate fees cannot play any useful parking management role and can only be about revenue (and they perform poorly at that too).
Key actor type
orderly parking (usually for wider benefits too)
Nairobi City County
Is it a model or a warning?
Main parking category
Main parking paradigm shift
On-street in mainly commercial streets
Helpful for park-once-and-walk approach
Adaptive Parking thrust
P: Price parking in the right ways and with the right rates for each place and time
Goals of the reform
Stated goals of the hourly parking charges proposal have included reducing traffic congestion within the CBD, boosting revenue collection and reducing the cost of short-duration parking.
Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)
Worsening traffic congestion and enormous levels of leakage from the existing fee collection system seem to have prompted a strong push for change. The Nairobi Finance and Economic Planning Chief Officer, Halkano Waqo, suggested that the hourly fee will discourage collusion between motorists and parking attendants. In 2019, Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) passed a motion calling on the county government to introduce hourly parking charges in the city centre (Collins Omulo, 2021).
Detailed description of the reform
Nairobi reportedly plans to make its on-street parking fees duration-based (time-based) with a per-hour price. This would replace the existing flat rate of KES200 (about 1.9 USD) per day regardless of parking duration.
Most details of the proposed hourly fee have not yet been announced. It remains to be seen whether this proposal will proceed. A similar proposal in 2012 was abandoned.
A fee-per-hour can improve street parking conditions by discouraging long-duration parking in prime locations. By contrast, flat-rate fees per day cannot play any useful parking management role and can only be about revenue.
For various reasons why duration-based parking fees are far superior to flat-fees for all day parking, see https://www.reinventingparking.org/2012/11/parking-policy-basics-time-based-fees.html
Nairobi previously had parking meters for on-street parking in the central area, but they were removed in the late 1990s and flat-rate per day fees collected by parking attendants were introduced .
Since 2014, Nairobi has had a mobile-phone-based electronic payment system (Ejijipay) for parking. This is promising, since it should enable a smooth transition to payments of duration-based parking. There is also the option to pay a parking attendant in cash who should then complete the transaction electronically using a city-issued phone (ITDP Africa, 2016).
However, as pointed out by ITDP in 2016, there are loopholes in the enforcement and payment system and parking attendants have too much discretion over whether to take action over parking infractions, such as failure to pay. Sure enough, investigations in 2019 and 2020 found that collusion between parking attendants and motorists was costing the city Sh437,500 every day from lost on-street parking fees and that only 31 percent of motorists actually paid the city for their parking (Collins Omulo, 2021).
Any implementation of time-based fees will also need to close these loopholes if it is to succeed.
Results or impacts
If implemented, it will be very interesting to see the results.
Sources and acknowledgements
Collins Omulo (March 10, 2021) City Hall to launch hourly CBD parking charges, The Nation, https://nation.africa/kenya/counties/nairobi/city-hall-to-launch-hourly-cbd-parking-charges-3317930 (and https://allafrica.com/stories/202103110063.html)
Paul Barter (November 30, 2012) Parking Policy Basics: time-based fees for on-street parking, Reinventing Parking, https://www.reinventingparking.org/2012/11/parking-policy-basics-time-based-fees.html
ITDP Africa (June 2016) Nairobi CBD parking survey, https://africa.itdp.org/publication/nairobi-cbd-parking-survey/
Image credit: KamauxKamau, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rush_hour_in_Nairobi.jpg
14 Apr 2021