Shop owners at the Ikeja City Mall on Monday locked up their shops to protest against the fee levied on parking at the mall.
The management of the mall, announced last week that any vehicle that is parked on the premises for more than 45 minutes would pay N200 while two hours would be N400; three hours, N600; four hours, N800; five hours, N1,000; six hours, N1,200 and over six hours, N1,400.
It also said that rates for parking on Sunday would be less than 50 per cent after 8pm while a lost ticket would attract a fee of N1,500.
The shop owners are also to pay a parking fee of N28,600 per month even as they are expected to pay another N16,000 access fee for a compulsory electronic disk.
A few days later, the management reportedly said the prices would be slashed by 50 per cent but on Sunday, they said the old fee would stand.
However, on Monday morning, hundreds of customers were refused service by the over 50 shop owners at the mall as they locked their shops for hours.
One of the shop owners, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the parking fee was outrageous, adding that the amount being paid as rent was exorbitant.
He said, “The average shop pays N1.7m per month as rent which is very high already. These South Africans just come to Nigeria to extort and cheat us because we have a bad government.
“Now, they want to chase our customers away with the parking fee.
“The reason they are eager to implement it is because the parking service has been contracted to Serviest, another South African company.”
Another shop owner said other malls such as City Mall, Onikan and the Palms at Lekki did not implement such and feared that customers would be swayed to patronise those other malls.
“If a customer has the luxury of choosing between Lekki where parking is free and Ikeja where it’s not, where do you think they would go?”
But the manager in-charge of service parking at the mall, Mr. Emeka Ikenumba, said the parking fee had come to stay, adding that the space had been an integral part of the investment plan.
He argued that research had shown that the average customer did not spend more than 45 minutes and the parking fee would not affect them as such.
He said, “Before the shop owners took ownership of the shop, they were made to sign an agreement and clause 12 on the pact states that the management can at anytime initiate extra service costs.
“Parking fee was introduced in order to generate money to maintain and manage the car park because of the level of investment that has gone into it.
“Gadgets like CCTV and others were acquired with a lot of money which must be paid for. If shop owners and customers cannot pay, then they are free to go elsewhere.”
It was learnt that following the protests, the management suspended the parking fee and had begun talks with the aggrieved shop owners.