Central Government has cleared the way for Smart City Solutions Incorporated (SCSI) to begin charging motorists for using parking spaces in Georgetown.
This was confirmed by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, who told Guyana Times on Monday that the parking meter by-laws, which were presented to him on Friday by the company, have been signed.
It had previously been reported that because of the time and location in which the documents were received, the Minister could not give his authorisation until legal experts had perused them. Hence, paid parking did not commence on Monday, as previously announced by the company.
There have been mounting concerns about the rollout of this project. When questioned about the option Central Government had to put the project on hold by not signing the by-laws, Bulkan noted that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) had the power to make its own decisions.
At midday on Monday, outgoing Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan launched a protest against the citywide rollout of the parking meter project. The protest, which took place in front of the Bishops’ High School, was prompted by the Deputy Mayor’s concern about the manner in which the company has been administering the project.
“You want to convince me that this company has experience in rolling out parking meters or has Guyanese at heart? When you see the chaos of the rollout of the parking meter project, it leaves much to be desired. Only Friday, we’re learning now, the parking meter by-laws were submitted to the subject Minister Bulkan. That is disrespectful to the Minister and the entire Government.”
He pointed to the demarcation of some parking meters which are too close to the corners as an indication of just how unprepared the company was to roll out the project. This comes in the wake of Traffic Chief Dion Moore’s statement that parking meters which are too close to corners will have to be removed.
“The fact that the parking meters are in front of schools and institutions that cater for the differently able is totally disrespectful. Parking meters are on the pavement, a slap in the face of the differently able.”
The manner in which the parking meter contract, signed in November 2015, was arranged with National Parking Solutions/SCSI has attracted heavy scrutiny in the press.
This was not helped when Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase Green, Town Clerk Royston King and City Councillors Oscar Clark and Junior Garrett left on a trip to Mexico to inspect the product – seven months after the agreement was inked.
Subsequently, the Finance Ministry and the Attorney General’s Chambers conducted reviews of the contract to determine its practicality and legality. In its reviews, the glaring absence of any financial analysis or feasibility study by the M&CC had been noted.
One of the observations of the Finance Ministry had been that “the contract has given complete monopoly power to SCSI over parking within Georgetown. This control could lead to exploitation of consumers as SCSI has the power to change fees arbitrarily and determine zones.”
The fees amount to at least $200 an hour. The minimum time a motorist can purchase is 15 minutes. The meters work by the user inputting the number of their parking space, the time they need and then presenting a prepaid card which they would have purchased, to a card reader on the meters.
Metered hours are Monday to Saturday, from 07:00h to 19:00h.
Any vehicle which has either not paid for parking or has exceeded the paid time will have their wheel incapacitated by a tyre booting device. This can be done whether the vehicle owner is present or not.
If the owner is not there, they will be greeted by the sight of their incapacitated vehicle and a sticker in the driver’s window upon their return. In cases whereby the parked vehicle may obstruct the flow of traffic, they may return to an empty space as the vehicle will be immediately towed.
A fine of $8000 plus VAT will have to be paid in order to unlock the vehicle. If the fine is not paid within two hours, the vehicle will be towed to an impound lot. The fine would then be $12,000 plus any VAT applicable.