Any motorist in Windhoek will tell you that finding an available parking bay in the central business district (CBD) these days is close to impossible. Very often motorists have to park huge distances from their intended destination or have to fork out a couple of dollars for secure, under-roof parking.
Relatively recent studies conducted by the City of Windhoek (CoW) have predicted a parking shortage of approximately 3 000 spaces throughout the CBD. This prediction is greatly dependent on the capital city’s actual growth rate and any developments taking place in the CBD. The studies also take into account any public transport improvements, implying that the more people use public transport, the less parking is required.
According to CoW’s spokesperson, Joshua Amukugo, numerous recommendations have been made to cater for the anticipated shortfall of parking spaces. “Various erven throughout the CBD were reserved in this regard.
Unfortunately all of the vacant erven that were reserved for future parking provisions in the CBD were sold by (the City) Council, with the last remaining two erven currently out on tender. Some public parking provision is incorporated to form part of such tenders, providing some parking alleviation,” said Amukugo.
According to Amukugo the latest parking study, which was conducted 12 years ago in 2004, showed that as of last year (2015) the CBD would not have enough space to absorb any large increase in vehicles. The parking shortage is exacerbated by the scarcity of vacant land in the CBD, which is a much sought after commodity and is high in demand. “The City made its intentions clear that it would rather avail such land for development instead of retaining it for parking. Eventually the city did not have the necessary resources to develop such parking resulting in the land lying idle,” Amukugo explained.
In addition, developing parking within the CBD has shown to be very costly and in many cases is not financial viable when equally considering limited resources and other priorities and challenges faced by the CoW. Amukugo admits that without available land and adequate resources to create additional parking, options that remain would be to improve public transport to ensure fewer vehicles enter the CBD.
Additional factors cited by CoW that add the lack of parking spaces in the CBD include the fact that parking is not considered a priority when assigning funds; planning to reserve land for parking has been overtaken by political events; and lack of funds to develop parking which leaves many erven underutilised. Amukugo further noted that presently, the parking meter system is outdated and cannot be expanded to ensure appropriate turnaround of parking is achieved. “More public spaces are used for long-term parking, which defeats the purpose of such parking,” Amukugo added.
Also weighing in on the parking dilemma, Oryx Properties, which manages the old Kalahari Sands (now Avani Hotel) parking facilities, admits that the 450 parking bays they look after close to the Gustav Voigts Centre, are too few.
“Given this building’s location and the immense demand for parking space, the answer has to be that we can certainly add more parking, something which we are at presently investigating,” said Conrad van der Westhuizen, General Manager at Oryx Properties. He continued that paying up to N$7 for less than an hour of parking is market-related and is based on research conducted on competitive price structures. “Though there may be small variances in certain time categories, prices are market-related given the demand for space in this area,” van der Westhuizen explained. “We have different sets of pricing structures – one set for permanent parkers and one set for casual parkers…We actually make use of automated pay machines while at the same time also employing a local company to manage this system for us – as such it is a hybrid system,” he continued.