Arbitration an option for parties involved in parking meter project

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By Ramona Luthi

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has indicated that the Government has made its concerns very clear regarding its position on the parking meter project and it is expected that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council would heed its advice in deciding the way forward. 

Harmon, who was at the time speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing earlier today, added that if Government’s signals to have the parking meter project suspended are not heeded, the contract may possibly be revoked. 

“[If it is not done] well of course there are two options, one; the suspension, of course the other one is revocation and if the intervention of a party under what may be termed force majeure exists then certainly the parties to the contract can understand what needs to be done and the contract spells out itself in clear terms what force majeure is  and what needs to be done,” the Minister said.

He further noted that with regards to compensation to the contracting parking meter company; Smart City Solutions, “those are legal issues which will be dealt with.”

“…but the Government has made its concerns very clear and therefore whether there is to be compensation or not that’s a matter to be addressed during the process,” he said.

The process, the Minister of state explained entailed further negotiations. “My understanding of the process is that if the parties do not agree with a position then they go to arbitration and in the arbitration, these issues are dealt with,” he noted while maintaining that “[he] believes the signal sent by the Government is a strong enough one to ensure that the parties to the contract understand that this is something that needs to be done.”

Harmon asserted that while the Georgetown Mayor and City Council are considered an independent body, the Cabinet has given its advice and this advice is expected to be heeded by the Council.

“The City Council wants to have a meeting where the advice of Cabinet is given to it and it is rectified and they move forward with that,” the Minister explained.

Moreover, he said that whatever decisions are made after this meeting, City Hall is expected to contact Smart City Solutions since the contract is between the two bodies.

“The Government’s intervention basically is to ensure that that contract between the two parties are renegotiated on different terms so our communication between our Minister of Communities and the City Hall is to that effect,” he posited.

However, Harmon could not state when this meeting would be held.

Following seven weeks of protests against the paid parking initiative and multiple calls for the parking meter contract to be revoked, the Government, just a few days ago, recommended that the Mayor and City Council suspend the project for three months.

Since then, this has not been done. However, yesterday, media operatives were informed that Town Clerk, Royston King responded to Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan’s recommendation informing him that the parking meter contract has no provisions for suspension. King also warned that by doing so, it would be deemed a breach of the contract and will result in the City having to financially compensate the contracting company.

This is in accordance to Article 14 of the parking meter contract which states that in a case of termination [since it does not allow for suspension], the city will be required to “pay the concessionaire a lump sum payment equivalent to (i) the total direct and indirect, hard and soft cost cumulative gross investment of the concessionaire in the project; plus (ii) an amount equal to 25% of the direct and indirect hard and soft cost cumulative gross investment of the concessionaire in the project; multiplied by the number of years (or fraction) remaining under the term…(iii) the reasonable out of pocket and documented costs and expenses incurred by the concessionaire as a direct result of such termination.”

Presently, paid parking around the city is still active.

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