Whether we like it or not, parking in downtown Apia will no longer be free.
The Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.), the implementing agency, is proceeding as planned with eight parking meters installed from the ANZ Bank down to the S.N.P.F. Plaza on the street side of the main road to jump start the pilot project.
The eight devices will cover 84 parking spaces and in September commuters will have to pay to park in the designated area.
The parking fee starts from $1 tala for the first 15 minutes and will continue to increase depending on the parking time.
For instance, for $4 tala will cover one hour of parking.
And for 8 hours of parking from 8:00am to 4:00pm, the fee is $32 tala.
The meters will be operable only from Mondays to Fridays during the pilot period with plans to include Saturdays.
L.T.A’s Chief Executive Officer, Galumalemana Titi Tutuvanu –Schwalger, did not discount concerns by media practitioners noting that the parking meters is more than just to generate new revenues but designed for the convenience of commuters and to ensure that traffic congestion are under control.
“The revenues generated from parking meters will fund part of road maintenances costs,” she added. “It is no great secret that L.T.A. does not have the financial resources to meet the demands of our country and maintaining roads for the safety of our travelling public is paramount to the authority.”
Between now and September when the fees are enforced, Galumalemana says that the grace period will allow the L.T.A. time to run promotional and publicity awareness programmes.
As for enforcement, Assistant Chief Executive for L.T.A’s Traffic Division, Muagututia Mark Tominiko, said the process is one that both the Police and L.T.A. will take charge.
He said that legislative approval mandates a minimum fine of $50 tala per violation and ultimately vehicles which violate the parking meter laws are liable to be towed.
Admitting that it will take time to re-adjust, L.T.A. and Police will do its part in assisting motorists to understand the law.
“It boils down to freedom of choice,” said Muagututia. “Legislatively, parking meters is the law and it’s up to motorists to choose a parking space in the town area where they are not required to pay a parking fee at their own free will.
“Apia town area is a rapidly growing economy and can quickly turn into a traffic nightmare for the downtown area if traffic is not managed properly.”
For the future, the success and outcome of the pilot project will assist the L.T.A. with the next phase and the parking meters have long been under the L.T.A’s microscope as part of the Authority’s strategic plan to address future traffic needs.