As the protest against parking meters in Georgetown becomes entrenched, Political Commentator, Dr David Hinds, who was part of today’s demonstration in front of City Hall, expressed his belief that the controversial project could have a negative impact on the upcoming elections for the Coalition Government in 2020.
“It is the first major sustained protest against the government. Now, the Government made mistakes from the pay raise for the Ministers come right down, they have made mistakes, but this one here, brought into being, a mass movement and so people are going to remember this and it certainly will have an impact at the next election,” he said, highlighting that while he is a supporter of the APNU-AFC administration and would want them to win again, this paid parking project will certainly have an effect on his “attitude towards the government.”
He stated that the three months suspension of the parking meter project that government has announced is “very critical” and they [administration] should utilize it to have widespread consultations “with the people” before it is reinstated.
During the protest today, which was still large but showed a decrease in its population, persons held their placards against the initiative, and continued to assert that the suspension of the parking meters is not enough.
“We want it to be revoked! The whole contract! It is not right for us!” persons said.
One irate protester said “ them [M&CC] too disrespectful! This is robbery with aggravation! …It ga fa come out this country! We aint want da hay!”
Vice Chairman of the Edward B Beharry Group of Companies expressed great anger over the fees of the parking meters.
“They’re asking us to pay a hundred plus dollars [US dollars] a month. Something is wrong. Something is wrong when a Government and when a City Council can sit down and say that is okay for a third world, poor country such as ourselves, that, they themselves have even just told us, is broke! …and is $38B short on the National Budget. You want us to pay a hundred US plus dollars to park per month, when the people that live in the richest city in the world- Manhattan- are paying half that?” he posited.
Since the roll out of the parking meter initiative in January, Guyanese have rejected it. However, protests began in February when persons were being “forced” to pay the meters or have their vehicles clamped and fined.
Consistent calls have since been made for the parking meter contract to be revoked and different bodies have taken the M&CC to court for relief from the project.
The Government just recently indicated their intention to suspend the parking meter initiative for three months pending consultations on the way forward, following mounting opposition towards the initiative from all sides.
Today’s protest which was spearheaded by the Movement Against Parking Meter was the seventh thus far.
MAPM had said in a prior release that it while it was very heartened by the recent recommendation of the Government of Guyana to suspend the parking meter contract they will continue their public call for the parking meter contract and bylaws in their current forms to be revoked.
The MAPM said it “would like to reiterate its position that we are not against a structured system for traffic regulation within the city including measures to facilitate the orderly parking of vehicles and the need for the M&CC to increase their revenue base. However, the fact remains that this project is an imposition on the Guyanese people and did not benefit from a feasibility and social impact study and has breached Guyana’s procurement regulations.”
Moreover, “the bylaws which the Government signed into law is oppressive and infringes on the constitutional rights of every Guyanese and seeks to usurp the work of the Guyana Police Force. For these reasons, the MAPM will continue to reject this project in its entirety and will not accept any action less than a full revocation of the contract and bylaws” said the Movement. (Ramona Luthi)