– uncertainty surrounds ‘who really owns the project’
– Cush denies knowledge of new Director
By Ramona Luthi
In light of the announcement of a new Director to spearhead the controversial Parking Meter Project, the man who identified himself as the Managing Director of Smart City Solutions (SCS), the company contracted to execute the project, Ifa Kamau Cush, is claiming that he is not aware of the change.
Public Relations Consultant for Smart City Solutions (SCS), Kit Nascimento, has indicated that Amir Oren, who is an International Director of Business Development, is now the major investor representing a consortium that has taken over SCS and would be spearheading the project.
However, when contacted on Thursday, Cush indicated that he is not aware of this development, directing this INews reporter to seek further clarification on the matter from the person who divulged the information.
But Nascimento explained that late last year, the Council formalised an agreement with National Parking Systems (NPS), which was operated by Cush. He noted that NPS introduced the Council as an “international consortium with extensive experience, finances and the know-how”.
Nascimento said the consortium includes several companies from Mexico, Peru and Panama and that the Council entered into an expanded contract allowing the consortium to establish a special purpose company, which is Smart City Solutions Inc in Guyana to take over the project. SCS in turn absorbed NPS.
However, up until recently, Cush was presented as the Director of SCS and the public was not aware of a second contract being signed by the Council concerning the parking meter system.
But Nascimento explained that the initial contract was “very old” and has been taken over by the SCS. Notably, he dodged questions about whether Cush has been replaced or whether it was Cush who approached Oren to set up the company.
“Cush is a shareholder. His position is not operational,” Nascimento said.
Meanwhile, when the Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green was contacted to provide clarity on the issue, she refused to comment, only saying that all questions should be directed to Nascimento.
Over the past few months, the parking meter contract has come under fire from all ends but the Government has assured that they have found nothing illegal in the contract which was signed with Smart City Solutions Inc.
When the contract was signed in June for its implementation throughout Georgetown, many persons were alarmed about the lack of transparency in the deal, with some saying that it appears to be a shady one aimed at exploiting the local populace.
Despite this, Smart City Solutions Inc had gone ahead and conducted demonstration exercises on how the parking meter works throughout the city. Persons were also seen conducting assessments on various streets in the city.
Government had ordered a review of the contract between Smart City Solutions and the Georgetown Mayor and Council (M&CC) following rising apprehension about the project’s transparency.
The review was conducted by Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams and it was later disclosed that there were no illegalities found.
The sum total of the finding was that (a) there was nothing illegal about the contract and it appeared that from a review of the documents that the terms and conditions of the contract were onerous and heavily in favour of the concessionaire,” Minister of State Joseph Harmon had indicated.
He assured that recommendations were made to ensure that Guyanese are not ripped off.
The project was slated for roll out this month.
However, Transparency Guyana (TIGI) has opined that the deal is shrouded in unaccountability and ambiguity. TIGI contended that there was no open tendering for the project while there was “handpicking” of a contractor and Councillors to conduct due diligence in Mexico.