Sofia Stages 3rd Rally against New Parking Rules, Fees

Society | August 17, 2012, Friday // 10:00|  views

For 2 evenings now, citizens have been blocking a key intersection in downtown Sofia in protest against the new parking rules and fees on the Bulgarian capital. Photo by BGNES

Residents of Bulgaria's capital Sofia are staging a protest rally for the third consecutive evening against the upcoming new parking rules and hike in parking fees.

Citizens have been blocking since Wednesday the key intersection of Patriarch Evtimiy boulevard and Graf Ignatiev street in downtown Sofia.

The Friday protest begins at 6 pm. The participants hope that Mayor, Yordanka Fandakova, and the Chairman of the Municipal Council, Elen Gerdzhikov, will appear to answer questions and discuss the issue with them. Both have failed to show up so far despite numerous appeals.

The demonstrators are slamming these changes as nothing short of racketeering and arm-twisting. In addition to revoking the new rules, they demand freeing sidewalks from parked cars and eliminating preferences for parking of vehicles of different institutions and private companies.

According to the civil movement DNES (Today), which challenged the new ordinance in Court, the petition against the new rules has been signed by 15 000 people.

The adopted measures triggered anger among drivers, as well as people living in the blue and green zones, who will be obliged to pay an annual fee of BGN 150 and BGN 100 respectively. Families living there will have to dig deeper in their pockets and pay fees three times higher if they have a second car. But even if the fee is paid, a parking lot is far from certain.

In a bid to justify the controversial measures, municipality members said they aim to bring order in the parking lots and ease traffic in the capital.

Sofia municipal council approved at the beginning of March plans for a hike in parking fees, to be enforced as of the beginning of September.

The fee for an hour's stay in the blue parking zones in downtown Sofia will increase from BGN 1 to BGN 2, under the adopted program for development of the public transport.

The fee for parking in the green zone in Sofia has been set at BGN 1 per hour.

Drivers will be allowed to park their vehicles in the blue and green zones for no more than two and four hours respectively.

All who want to pay their parking fees in a hassle-free way have to send a text message to number 1302 for subscribers of the three mobile operators Mtel, Globul and Vivacom.

After sending the SMS, the person gets a reply that the payment was successful. Five minutes before the pre-paid hour elapses, the subscriber receives a notification.

The new higher fees, expected to be enforced as of September 1, have already been challenged in the Administrative Court by DNES. The case was filed on July 4.

Fandakova has hinted she is willing to listen to the objections of citizens, but added that she suspected political interference, which, according to her, would be a reckless act.

Fandakova insists the new rules would turn the capital into a true European city, stressing on the need to continue to explain to people why the changes are needed.

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Tags: Elen Gerdzhikov, mayor, sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, parking, sofia, fees, rules, blue, green, zone, protest rally, DNES


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