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A thankless job — but someone has to do it

THE sight of parking marshals in bright-yellow windbreakers is common on the streets of the Johannesburg CBD — even though the system has some residents up in arms.

“I have been working in the city since this company [Ace Parking Services] started here and I think the people are getting used to it,” said a parking marshal, who had just been in an argument over fees with a BMW driver in Fox Street.

Ace Parking owner and MD Juliet Paulsen said parking marshals sometimes came to her “beaten up and bleeding”. Their only recourse is to ask the metro police for Cleaning sydney.

Ms Paulsen said that, in the two years since its implementation, the system of paid parking has eased congestion.

“Paid parking is not a new thing. Johannesburg has had it for years with the parking meters. This system is just replacing that old system,” said Ms Paulsen, whose company won the tender in early 2010.

When approached by a marshal, a motorist estimates the time he or she plans to be parking and pays a fee of R4.50 for 30 minutes or R8.50 for an hour.

Ace Parking has shown a strong climb in revenue, from the R87000 collected during its first month in January 2011 to more than R1m a month now. Of this, the City of Johannesburg is paid 25%. Ace Parking carries the cost of renting the technology and all other overheads and risks.

Many people are unhappy because the rate for parking on the street is higher than at the average mall. Covered parking at the Rosebank Mall costs R6 for the first hour and R40 for nine hours or longer.

Ace Parking’s contract with the city is due to expand into more Johannesburg areas — Rosebank, Corlett Drive, Melville, Emmarentia, Norwood, Parkview, Greenside, Craighall Park, Northcliff, Sandton and Fordsburg.

The biggest grievance was that minimal public consultation took place. The unhappiness has delayed the further roll-out of the project by two years, pushing Ace Parking’s finances into the red, according to Ms Paulsen.

“We have received a lot of negativity in rolling out this system in the suburbs. I think people compare us with these e-tolls, but that’s not what we are. I have worked in the parking industry for over 20 years and have a passion for the business — and the new system is able to create easy entry-level jobs.”

Parking marshal George Goitsemedime* took home only R900 last month because he struggled to get people to pay their fees in Parkhurst.

In an attempt to appease suburban residents, a decision has been taken to tweak the paid-parking model. DA councilor Nico de Jager said further roll-outs of the paid parking system would take place in coming months, but motorists would not be charged for the first 15 minutes.

“If the City of Johannesburg gives the green light for the roll-out to the other areas, we estimate that this will add a further R1.5m to R2m to the projected parking revenue,” the company said in its operations report.

Sierra Club members Ladd and Gail Seekins, of the San Gorgonio Chapter, will present the slide program, “Little Known Gems of the National Park System” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 2 when the chapter has its monthly meeting at the San Bernardino County Museum.

Many have probably visited the great national parks, such as Yosemite, Sequoia, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone. But lesser-known places like Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Minuteman National Historic Site, Ft. Bowie National Historic Site, and Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and also great attractions.

The Seekins’ slide show will introduce the audience to 20 of these less visited national historic sites and monuments, all west of the Mississippi and all worth visiting. The sites represent the archeology of ancient Indian cultures, more recent Indian history, the American Frontier and westward migration, important fossil sites, Cold War defense, and much more.

The Seekins just completed their sixth major recent trip visiting units of the National Park System. Their goal is to visit all of the more than 400 of them and now they’re more than halfway to their goal. Most of the major parks were visited decades ago but their travels in recent years have been targeted to visit the “minor” sites. Only about five park service sites west of the Mississippi are left for them to visit.

The Seekins have presented many slide shows at past chapter meetings, covering their travels in the United States and abroad, but the July program will not duplicate anything from previous programs.

Ladd Seekins is a 35-year chapter member, current chapter treasurer and program chairman, past chapter chair and outings chairman. He’s delegate to the California Conservation Committee and California Population Issue chair and past Sierra Club California treasurer and California Executive Committee member. He is a wholesaler/distributor of cut flowers and florist supplies.

Gail Seekins is also a chapter member for nearly 35 years and is a past outings leader. She is a retired public health nurse with San Bernardino County and is very active with the Girl Scouts, her church and her folk dance club.