LAST week, newspaper editor and publisher Alfred Dizon parked his van at 3:30 pm along Harrison Road, a national road, and paid the corresponding parking fees for two hours, plus the extra hour he needed.

That means, his motor vehicle (MV) can occupy the parking space from 3:30 pm until 6:30 pm or 6:45 pm which includes a grace period time of 15 minutes. All in all, the MV could park for three hours and 15 minutes which is also 15 minutes before the end of the regulation time at 7:00 pm.

He was told by the parking fee collector that staying beyond the regulation time of 7:00 pm was okay as long as the motor vehicle was removed from the parking space before the Night Market opens at 9:00 pm.

The editor felt relieved since he was given the assurance of not having to rush as the Night Market would still open two hours away from the parking regulation time at 7:00 pm. But when he reached the parking space, his front car plate was already gone.

As shown by a parking violation receipt inserted on the windshield wiper, the plate of the van was taken away at 8:13 pm by personnel of the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD), according to a Night Market space occupant.

The POSD man with the little power that he wields exerts the law the way he sees fit even without an ordinance to support his actions. The act of collecting parking fees within the regulation time is backed by an ordinance so that collectors approach a car that is about to park and collect parking fees.

The parking ordinance says that the time of regulation is from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily and the vehicle owner shall pay a regulatory fee upon parking based on the number of hours it needs. The maximum time for a parking slot will be three hours plus a grace period of 15 minutes.

The allowed four-wheel motor vehicle will be charged P50 for the first two hours plus P20 for the succeeding hour; motorcycles will be charged P20 for the first two hours plus P10 for the succeeding hour.  A fraction of more than 15 minutes is considered one hour.

The ordinance also stipulated the corresponding fines for violations such as payment of P500 for MVs that exceed the maximum parking of three hours, and; P100 for motorcycles. MVs could also be clamped with a corresponding fee of P1,000; or towed with a P1,500 fee.

In the case of Alfred, his allowed time was from 3:30 pm to 6:45 pm. From 6:45 until 7:00 pm, which was the end of the regulation ordinance, no collector or POSD personnel came to remove his car plate after he had already consumed his parking limit.

His plate was taken only at 8:13 pm which was one hour and 13 minutes past the end of the regulation ordinance. The law does not firmly say that car plates can be confiscated after the regulation time of 7:00 pm.

With all the times that I occupied a space at Session Road, usually coming to park an hour or minutes before the parking regulation time closes at 7:00 pm, and even staying beyond that time, my car plate was never confiscated.

Apparently, car plate confiscation beyond 7:00 pm is applied particularly on motor vehicles parked along Harrison Road, not on the other seven roads that were listed in Ordinance 68, S.2020. That is because Night Market stall occupants have to prepare their goods before 9:00 pm.     

To make the situation more unfortunate, car owners whose plates are removed beyond the 7:00 pm regulation time are placed in a tight spot as there is no treasurer’s office that is open, or there is no city treasurer’s representative who is authorized to receive payments from motorists who want to retrieve their car plates.

In addition to the bad corner that a motorist is in, even if one asks around, nobody seems to know where the car plates are brought, not even the power-tripping policeman that Alfred approached at Kayang St.

Accidentally, another policeman worth his badge who was posted near the Melvin Jones football ground thought that the only sensible place where his car plate would be is at the POSD office at the Kayang-Hilltop market road.

After 7:00 pm, on-street parking for four-wheel motor vehicles is allowed because the regulation ordinance is from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm only. The policemen are scattered on the streets but no one is stopping motor vehicles from parking because they know how to properly employ the law.

Indeed, a little power is dangerous. Ordinance No. 68, S.2020 and how law enforcers should act after 7:00 pm needs to be revisited. Understandably, no ordinance can be crafted to back the Night Market since it is occupying a road which is contrary to law.

But obviously, the Night Market was the reason why Alfred’s car plate was taken. Here, the unlawful is given favor over a registered MV that paid its parking dues.