The days of free parking at the Kenilworth Centre shopping mall are drawing to a close.
A paid parking system will kick in on Monday July 3.
Kenilworth Centre offered free parking for more than 40 years and was one of few malls which still did so.
Talks of the new parking system surfaced last year but management were reluctant to give many details and only confirmed that such a system was still in its discussion phase, (“Shoppers worry they will have to pay for parking”, Tatler, November 24, 2016).
The announcement of the paid parking system has got customers talking, with some claiming it could improve safety and others not understanding why it has to be implemented.
Ben Davids from Rondebosch has been shopping at the centre for nearly 20 years and said the sudden introduction of a paid parking system did not add up.
“One of the many reasons people come here to shopping is because of the free parking, especially pensioners such as myself. Now with the paid parking system around the corner, I’d be interested to know how many people will actually come to the centre to shop,” Mr Davids said.
He is also worried about the car guards losing their income.
“These guys are so friendly and some of them have been at the centre for many years. When we pull up there, they run over to assist, sometimes even walking us to the door. Management has to retain the services of these guys, because they are doing a sterling job out in the parking area,” he said.
Jessica Hofmeyer from Kenilworth is one of those shoppers who gave the paid parking system the nod, saying it would introduce a sense of relief where security is concerned.
“There will be some kind of access control and more security roaming the grounds. That would mean our cars are alot safer, as opposed to anybody just driving in here and driving out with your car. I am not aware of this having happened before, but it’s something you see in malls all around the world,” she said.
“Well done for management finally introducing such a system, it really can only do wonders for the centre.”
Another positive she highlighted was that funds could now be raised to further improve the parking bays and mall.
“Kenilworth Centre is one of the most frequently used malls in Cape Town, competing with the best. I am sure they are going to make loads of money, but management must use that money to make improvements to the parking areas, as it can get a little confusing at times,” Ms Hofmeyer said.
Whatever the shoppers and tenants may feel, the curbs have been prepared, pay points are in place and ticket machines are ready to record each vehicle passing the boom.
The first one and a half hours are free and it will cost you R30 if you park for more than five hours.
This is while at nearby Cavendish Square, the first hour and a half will cost you R10 and if you park for seven hours and more, it would cost you R60.
When management announced the paid parking structure using Facebook on Wednesday June 21, several shoppers were quick to share their views.
Fazeelah Ibrahim posted: “That’s not bad at all and the car theft story is now much more difficult with the fence all around and the controlled access. I see there are cameras at all exits now. Not all change is bad.”
Carl Geel posted: “So excited!! Its bringing a beautiful order between shoppers and people passing by. Kenilworth Centre deserves the little respect after all of their hard work in making the centre bigger and better for all of us!! Keep up the good work.”
Chantell van Eyssen posted: “My second home away from home! My routine stop everyday. I think the first 90 minutes free is awesome and very acceptable! Thanks Kenilworth Centre.”
The downside of the paid parking system could see the end of the car guards inside the parking area, many of whom who are considered “helpful and friendly”.
Bennet Blessing has been working at the centre since 2003.
“We heard there is a new company coming here and also that our contract is going to expire. I’ve been working here for 14 years, looking after my family, two kids and wife, one who is going to high school next year. It’s not a good thing and is very worrying when they put a machine in, which means there is no job for us,” Mr Blessing said.
Eric Beulah, who started in 2011, said he will have to resort to sitting at home and reassess his options, before seeing what else he is able to do.
“Before I was working in the factory, but the company closed down and I came here. I am really not sure when it will expire and I am waiting on them to tell me when its over,” he said.
“The problem is that they want to make alot of money with the building, so we have no choice. If the contract ends, only God knows what is next. It may end next month, but I’m married with a wife, two boys and it’s only me working, with a room to rent as well.”
Commenting on behalf on Kenilworth Centre, Andreana Holmes acknowledged the fact that the centre had historically offered free parking, but said the parking space was often filled with cars that didn’t necessarily belong to their customers.
“Paid parking is to ensure that the prime parking space is protected and available to our customers,” Ms Holmes said.
With regards to the car guards currently working in the parking, she said they were “not formally employed by the centre”, but have been upskilled through on the job security training, preparing them for more formal careers.
On a Facebook post, Kenilworth Centre responded to a shopper’s concern regarding the future of the car guards and said: “The Customer Assistants have been invited to apply for work opportunities at KC via Interpark.”
“BLOB: Shoppers shared their views on the new parking system which is to be implemented next month. See page 10.