Coincidence or deliberate: No parking meter in front of Govt officials’ premises

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…citizens to start paying from Monday

as citizens prepare to start paying for parking in Georgetown on Monday, some senior Government-affiliated officials may not have to feel the brunt of this burden. One example is on North Road on the southern side of the St George’s Cathedral.

Parking meters have been installed along certain sections of North Road
Parking meters have been installed along certain sections of North Road

An Alliance For Change (AFC) businessman in the neighbourhood has complained bitterly about the section in the vicinity of the St George’s Cathedral which is allegedly owned by a Director of Guyana Goldfields Inc, who is connected with Government officials – and which does not have parking meters.

The installation of the controversial parking meters began in December 2016. However, prior to this, a meeting was held with representatives of the parking meter contractors, Smart City Solutions (SSC).

No parking meters have been installed in front of this building
No parking meters have been installed in front of this building

At that meeting on November 4, 2016, it was disclosed that during the first phase, the project will occupy 3237 spaces in Georgetown, utilising 157 parking meters on many streets in Georgetown, namely on Quamina Street, Water Street, Hadfield Street, Camp Street, Church Street, North Road, Robb Street, Regent Street, Charlotte Street, South Road, Croal Street, Brickdam, Avenue of the Republic, Wellington Street and King Street.

However, when contacted on Thursday, the contracting company’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Kit Nascimento stated that parking meters would not be placed at the area mentioned, as they [SCS] “have exercised their judgment that [they] will be putting parking meters there some other time”. He was at the time responding to questions as to why some sections of North Road were furnished with meters and others were not.

Additionally, as this publication continued to probe, Smart City Solutions’ PRO stated that no explanation was owed to the media.

“We don’t owe an explanation to the media as to why we place parking meters at one place and not another,” he asserted.

The fact that parking meters were not erected in the vicinity of the building come to light after the recent outcry against SCS for installing meters in front of at least two city schools.

Two parking meters were installed in front of The Bishops’ High School, while one was installed in front of the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre. The Guyana Teachers Union immediately condemned the decision, noting that this would only bring more hardship to teachers already affected by low salaries.

The National Disability Commission had also complained about the placement of the meters, noting that their presence in the middle of parapets were hazardous to disabled persons.

Smart City Solutions has since agreed to meet with representatives from the affected bodies. The parking project has been mired in controversy since its introduction to the public early last year.

Citizens as well as other significant stakeholders, including the Private Sector, rejected the idea.

However, Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King had contended that parking meters were urgently needed to regulate traffic in the city.

On Monday, January 23, 2017, citizens of Guyana will be obligated to pay $50 for every 15 minutes of parking in Georgetown. Those not adhering to this obligation would have their vehicle wheels clamped by wardens, using a device, making them immobile. Persons would then have to pay a staggering $8000 fine to clear their vehicle. Failure to pay that fine would result in the vehicle being impounded.

Nascimento had said that the parking meters would be operational from 07:00h to 19:00h (7am to 7pm) Monday to Saturday. Any time before 07:00h in the morning and after 19:00h in the evening would be free, he declared, noting that parking would also be free on Sundays.

It was explained in earlier press conferences and interviews that through this initiative, the city will benefit from 20 per cent of the gross earnings on a yearly basis. The parking meter contract, which was signed between the Mayor and City Council and Smart City Solutions, will last for 20 years, with the option to renew.

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