Parking fees punish vendors providing low-cost service to schools

The imposing of parking fees in schools in line with the "clean wage" policy, where public officers get a salary with no hidden benefits to ensure transparency and accountability, needs to be rebalanced and approached with circumspection (Teachers to pay for parking in schools from Aug; March 27).

Free parking serves to benefit a larger audience of community users, including service workers, volunteers and alumni who contribute and enhance the running and vibrancy of the schools.

However, the implementation of the policy "punishes" the group of users that provides low-cost services to the students in schools, such as canteen vendors.

These workers are already drawing considerably lower wages in meeting the needs of the schools.

For example, many canteen operators have to reach the school before 6.30am to ensure food is prepared and ready for students in time.

They have to contend with lower profits earned in the process of serving the school population only during school terms.

The shrinking student population and impending school mergers have also worsened their situation, yet a number of vendors have committed to remain to ensure a continuity of services.

Provision of free parking for service workers helps to ensure continual and sustainable services, and lower operating cost overall in the long term for students and parents.

It would also allow personnel to focus on the care and effective running of schools, rather than having to spend time on the extra burden of administrating parking matters.

If the authorities insist on implementing parking charges in schools, then equal transparency should be accorded to how the money collected is used, perhaps to benefit the main stakeholders - the students - in terms of canteen food prices and school bus transport expenses.

Daniel Tan Han Ean

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2018, with the headline 'Parking fees punish vendors providing low-cost service to schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe