When Karel (24) received five identical letters about his allocated parking permit last week, he had to “laugh a little”. Since December he has been arranging a parking permit for his, but it just doesn’t work. At first he was on a waiting list, but when he got past that it only started: emails without a response, letters that were not sent with the original date, it drove him “completely crazy”. Now he is waiting for the invoice for the permit: as soon as it has been paid, the permit will be granted. Only the bill does not come.
Normally, Karel, who because of his privacy would rather not have his full name in the newspaper, would rather drop by the city counter, ‘to arrange everything right in one go’. But he found out that all city counters are closed, on behalf of people with an appointment. And because in principle a parking permit can be arranged online, an appointment is not possible.
Extra threshold for Amsterdammers
The seven (due to the merger with Weesp there are now eight) city counters closed their doors for a visit during the corona pandemic. But where many city counters can be visited again in other cities, this is not the case in Amsterdam. And if you can still schedule an appointment, the plans are long. The next appointment for a passport is on May 18. An urgent appointment is also an option, but depending on the demand it can sometimes take until the beginning of May for you to come by.
Also read: Weesp will remain Weesp, they hope in Weesp after the merger with Amsterdam
“While the cafes and restaurants are fully open again, the municipality is lagging behind,” says Amsterdam ombudsman Munish Ramlal. He receives many complaints from residents, who describe the contact with the municipality as impersonal. “Before corona you could just walk in for a driver’s license, passport or parking permit. Now there is yet another threshold.”
He also sees that prevention can get into trouble. “In February there was someone who is moving abroad and was waiting for proof of deregistration. But while the council took a long time, his new employer was in a hurry.” finally, after the Ombudsman’s intervention, proof of deregistration was provided.
Reception Ukrainian refugees
A spokesperson for Alderman Touria Meliani (ICT, Services, GroenLinks) indicates that it is “currently very busy”, although there is no known backlog of parking permits. There is, however, an extension to the application for passports, about six weeks. The main reason is the “limited occupation due to corona cases and the flu epidemic”. In addition, some of the employees have been made available to receive Ukrainian refugees at the Central Station and a South city counter has been set up to export refugees.
A large group of Amsterdammers is not good with the computer. They’re in trouble now
Munish Ramlal Amsterdam Ombudsman
Ombudsman Ramlal understands the municipality. “First corona, now Ukraine: it is crisis after crisis. I see that civil servants are doing their utmost, especially in the Service Department.” But he also sees that there is a lot at stake: „There is a large group of Amsterdammers who are not good with the computer. They also make the most use of municipal services and are now getting into trouble.”
The municipality points out that an urgent request can be made via telephone number 14 020, but there are additional costs involved. People can also have their travel documents sent home free of charge until May 6, so that they do not have to go to the city counter. Additional skills are being developed to ensure passport applications are five working days from May, but this will work depending on the further influx of refugees. In the meantime, the city counters will remain largely closed for the next two months. The aim is to open on June 1, although that date is also under pressure because the roosters are made six to eight weeks in advance and it will not succeed.
For Karel, the first car meant at least in municipal bureaucracy. His car, needed for work, has been parked far away since December in a place where there is free parking. “So it’s a nice car, but use it? That is not yet possible.” Even one letter from the municipality can change that tomorrow. Karel: “Fingers crossed.”