OPINION: Parking at Wits is chaotic

After a three month holiday spent mostly unproductively, I welcomed the return to campus.

I was not surprised that parking on campus was a nightmare especially on the first day back but my experience on the morning of 11 February 2013 is an outrage.

Queueing in a long line of cars just trying to enter campus the fear sets in that finding a parking would be nearly impossible.

Cars were scrambling around like vultures trying to squeeze into the smallest of corners left open as every single parking bay made available by Wits was occupied.  Some cars were even ‘parked in’ by inconsiderate yet desperate students who naturally did not want to be late for their first lectures.

The fees that I pay for my parking permit at Wits is R735.00 per annum. While it may seem like alot to many people, to a student it is and it should at least come with a guarantee that every student who has paid that fee will be able to locate a parking bay inside Wits.

As a student who has paid this fee I did not expect to drive around hopelesslyfor a total of 45 minutes in search for a parking spot and in doing so, missing my lecture and having to eventually give up and return home.

I appreciate that Wits is a large institution that caters for thousands of students each year yet as a paying student that is in fact not my problem.

Students have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns about parking at Wits and as a student who experienced the utter chaos I can only agree with what they are saying. In order to successfully obtain a degree through the University of Witwatersrand it is imperative that lectures are attended. But if parking bays are not available the student is therefore left helpless and without options but to either continue the quest of finding a parking and therefore be late for lectures or ultimately to return home and miss the lecture altogether.

It has been an on-going problem at Wits however the magnitude of chaos experienced this year has got to be the last straw.

Limited parking at Wits should not be the reason that students do not obtain their degrees.





Wits could not be bothered about parking

“Don’t bother trying to take the parking issue up. We’ve been trying to fight that battle for a while now and that’s not happening.”

We were told this by a member of the Wits medical school council in 2011 after a car was stolen outside the medical school campus. He said students who were registered for parking at the education campus had to park outside because they were unable to find any parking on campus.

Vuvuzela took up the battle to try and find out whether the number of parking permits sold at Wits far exceeded the number of parking bays available.

In 2008 Wits “put in place measures to attempt to develop an encompassing parking solution within the confines of the urban environment in which we live and the space available to us for parking”. It said this in a statement on its website.

Since then they have also appealed to drivers to travel in lift clubs or use public transport to “reduce the number of cars that require parking on campus which at the same time will herald enormous benefits for the environment”.

Students and staff can alleviate the parking problem by doing this, but what if the problem is that Wits registers more people for parking than there are parking bays?

If Wits limited the number of people who can register for parking, the parking problem could be alleviated which also “at the same time will herald enormous benefits for the environment”.

At the same time trying to get answers to questions about the problem is difficult and met with much resistance.

On August 8 last year an e-mail request for an interview with the Wits parking office manager, Vijanthi Purmasir, did not receive a response. We then sent questions and had to re-send them because Purmasir – and later Emannuel Prinsloo, Wits director of campus development and planning who took over “responding” to questions – failed to answer specific ones.

In response to an initial enquiry of how many Witsies are registered for parking, we were told the total number fluctuated throughout the year. Purmasir said they did “not have the figures yet” when asked for the figures as they stood in February and August of last year.

As to whether the number of students registered for parking exceeded the number of parking bays provided, Purmasir repeated a response she gave to us in March, saying there is enough parking for students registered and students who did not comply with parking rules or found parked outside of their zones would be fined.

When Purmasir was pushed about why the parking office did not have numbers “yet” in August but was still able to say “the numbers fluctuate” and “there is enough parking”, she did not respond. Further questions were then handled by Prinsloo, who said he was waiting for the total number of permits sold.

And when those same questions were asked in February 2012, when those numbers for 2011 should be known, we received no responses.

Vuvuzela asked if there is a cut-off for the number of students who register for parking and received this reply on August 17 from Purmasir: “Presently there is no cut-off system for the amount [sic] of students who may apply for parking.”

But a week later Prinsloo indicated this could change: “In terms of the proposed new parking policy, the intention would be to limit the number of parking permits sold annually whilst keeping a percentage for sale later in the year.”

Whether that policy has been put in place is unknown because Prinsloo has failed to respond to our query about it. Students however say they have been able to register for parking the same as they were able to last year.