The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) seems to be putting finishing touches to its plan to reintroduce the infamous park and pay policy which an Abuja high court had declared illegal in April. Back then, residents of the capital city expressed delight with the abolition of the policy that many described as ill thought out and seemed aimed at making life difficult for motorists. There were a plethora of complaints against some of the overzealous operators who were quick to clamp vehicles at the slightest excuse to extort.
While declaring the illegality of the policy, the presiding judge, Justice Peter Affen, had said there was no law in place backing the policy which he ordered be stopped forthwith. However, the FCT minister’s spokesman, Nosike Ogbuenyi, said last week that the administration has gone back to the drawing board with a view to bringing back the policy. According to him, “the minister is going to come out with very clear cut guidelines for the policy, so it is coming. There have been a lot of collaborations, meetings and committees sitting to fine tune the programme. So it is coming back and very soon- that’s the assurance that I can give to the residents.
“This is because there is no mega city in the world that does not have a park and pay system.People don’t just park any how in the city. You can see what is happening now in Abuja; there is chaos in many places, with people parking their vehicles anyhow and they do anyhow,” he added.
The fiasco that the park and pay policy had become is a pointer to the haphazard manner in which government policies are churned out in this country where apparently no serious thought is given to their formulation and subsequent implementation. The result in most cases has always been that government is forced to backpedal on such policies after enormous human and material resources may have been expended. It is shocking that the FCT ministry even introduced such a policy that it did not know had no legal backing.
While we may agree with the minister’s spokesman that most so called mega cities of the world have a park and pay policy in place, theirs are for different reasons from the ones given by Abuja authorities. In such cities, the policy is put in place to discourage people from using their vehicles but encouraged to commute by the efficient public transportation system provided by the authorities. The mega cities Ogbuenyi is referring to have in place effective bus and metro systems that make commuting easy and more cost effective for residents. The authorities in those mega cities also do so with an eye on reducing the level of gas emission into the environment which makes for healthier cities.
Sadly, authorities here are only determined to reintroduce the policy for the wrong reasons. We believe it will help a great deal if the FCT administration tarries awhile until it finishes the mono rail project which will help ease transportation difficulties in the city. We do not see the need to rush back the policy when the necessary infrastructure is not in place. And if the authorities insist on doing so as they seem bent on doing, perhaps, they should consider implementing it in some, not all, parts of the city for a start.