Uganda’s Capital City in Drive to Improve Parking Services
Authorities in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, which borders Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, wants to revamp the city’s parking services to attract more users and increase parking revenues.
Currently, this city of 3.6 million people, slightly below Los Angeles’ 3.9 million, but ahead of Chicago’s 2.6 million, grapples with the challenge of traffic jams largely caused by effects of unregulated and illegal on-street parking within Kampala’s central business district (CBD).
Moreover, Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), which manages the capital city, faces an acute shortage of gazette off-street parking spaces despite a growing vehicle ownership rate in Uganda that continues to create a huge demand for parking spaces.
Due to constraints in effectively regulating vehicle parking within the city’s CBD, the KCCA has fallen short of its parking revenue targets from the available parking spaces.
In 2021, KCCA achieved only 8 percent of its parking revenue target from both passenger service vehicles (PSVs) that use the Old Taxi Park, the biggest and busiest public transport terminal in Uganda, and also from private vehicles utilizing the 5,872 gazetted parking spaces within the CBD. These gazette parking spaces are, perhaps, a fraction of available parking lots since no update has been done of the total available space for more than 16 years.
“We had projected that by the end of the year we would have collected UGX 24 billion (US$6.3 million) out of the 33,000 taxis,” says Yassin Sendawula, of the Urban Inspection department in Uganda’s Ministry of Local Government.
However, KCCA only managed to collect UGX2 billion (US$526,000) of the projected revenues.
KCCA now wants to pursue multiple options in an effort to improve its parking services within Kampala city, including expanding the current gazetted parking lots and attracting more users to them through market-oriented solutions such as keeping track of pricing to ensure they commensurate with existing supply and demand trends within the city.
The Authority also plans to deploy electronic parking technology including increased use of mobile technology in making payments, attracting private partners into Kampala city’s parking service business and also improving the quality of existing parking lots in addition to building multi-story car parks at selected sites within the city.
When KCCA announced an upward revision of the on-street parking rate in 2017 to UGX 120,000 (US$31), vehicle owners and operators protested the move attracting the attention of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
He annulled the new rate, although the country’s Cabinet, later in 2018, approved the levying and collection of park user fees on PSVs at UGX 840,000 (US$218) per annum for each vehicle.
But for PSVs operating within Kampala city, the Cabinet prescribed the charges at UGX 720,000 (US$186) annually while buses pay UGX 2,400,000 (US$622) per annum.
“The purpose of the above levy is to harmonize tax system of Kampala Capital City Authority and other Local Governments and also to stop multiple taxation and daily levies on taxis and provide for a single annual payment,” a previous statement by Uganda’s Cabinet explained.
The Cabinet had also said the proposed levy was to “stop the use of agents in the collection of Park User fees from taxi operators”
“We have reorganized the taxi parking so that they are grouped according to the areas they serve,” says Dorothy Kisaka, the Executive Director of the KCCA.
She said KCCA is also “in the final stages of redesigning the old taxi park area to modernize it while taking care of the interest of the current users.”
“We have re-established the collection of park user fees which has raised our revenue collection significantly,” she said.
Part of the re-organization of park user fee collection include mandatory digital payment of parking fees.
“When the digital payment of parking fees is fully in place, we hope the collection will improve tremendously,” adds Sendawula.
Elsewhere, the management of street parking in Kampala has been contracted to Multiplex Uganda Limited. A large share of the gazetted on street-parking spaces are located on Lumum Street, William Street, Market Street, Burton Street, Ben Kiwanuka Street and Channel Street.
Multiplex has in turn partnered with mobile money service providers of Airtel and MTN to ease the payment of parking fees via use of USSD code. Multiplex also allows use of the company’s tickets to pay for parking.
The tickets can be obtained from designated agents stationed on the different streets within the city. The streets have been installed with parking meters for on street parking supplied to Multiplex by KAPS, East Africa’s premier solution provider of car parking, access control and revenue management systems.
Multiplex also uses KAPS’ Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera System “complete with enforcement back office to track and find Kampala motorists who default in payment of parking fees.”
In anticipation of increasing demand for parking, KCCA had previously approved the development of the US$ 73 million Kampala Urban Multi-Story Car Parks Infrastructure Project as focus shifts from the current on-street parking model, that occupies huge portion of the city’s land, to an automated modern multi-story car park structure.
Development of the project under a contract initially awarded to Uni Oasis, part of the Uni Oil Group of companies, entails construction of up to 12-floor fully automated round multi-story car parking structures at selected locations within Kampala. KCCA is yet to confirm when the project would break ground.
The multi-story parking facilities are to be installed with fully fledged firefighting systems and a 24/7 CCTV surveillance system to beef up security of parked cars.
Other installations on this multi-story parking infrastructure include a site view roof top café area and a car auto washing machine outside each some of the car parks.
When fully complete, the Kampala Urban Multi Story Car Parks Infrastructure Project will help decongest the city and enable KCCA to earn an estimated US$ 12.2 million annually, rising to US$ 15 million per annum after the two years of operation.
With the new, modern and secure car parks it will cost car owner UGX3,500 (US$1) for the first one hour of parking and UGX 1,000 (US$ 0.30) per extra hour of stay, but with a maximum charge of UGX 10,000 (US$ 3) for a whole day’s parking according to KCCA.
In addition, monthly parking stickers or rechargeable E-cards will be available to all, but mainly for office-based customers at a fee to be decided when the project comes online.
With Kampala City Council Authority’s commitment to improve the mobility within Uganda’s capital city as well increase revenues generated from the city’s parking spaces, there is potential to transform Kampala, which sits on seven hills, into a better urban area for everyone.
Shem Oirere is Parking Today’s on the ground reporter in Africa. He can be reached at email@example.com.