Parking meters at schools an additional burden on teachers – GTU

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By now everyone has felt the arrival of the parking meters in Georgetown, but the presence of two in front of the Bishops’ High School and one by the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre is not going down well with the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU).

According to GTU’s General Secretary Coretta McDonald, this represents an additional burden on teachers and generally anyone else who will be affected by the fees which have been imposed. At present the rate is $50, plus Value Added Tax (VAT), for every 15 minutes. This adds up to at least $200 an hour.

The sign indicating the proximity of parking meters
The sign indicating the proximity of parking meters Opposite Bishops High

“Teachers are quite upset because this is an additional financial burden,” McDonald said, in an interview on Monday. “Any additional financial burden will be cause for concern. Teachers are no different.”

McDonald was critical of the fact that neither Smart City Solutions Incorporated (SCSI), the company responsible for the parking meters, nor the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), saw having consultations with the Union representing Guyana’s teachers as important.

“What I would like to say to the M&CC or the entity, is that before you roll anything out (which affects the life of the populace), consultations are important.”

According to McDonald, she has written to Mayor Patricia Chase-Green in order to seek a meeting. One of her expectations is for a reduction for teachers and any workers who will be affected.

After being signed in November 2015, the manner in which the 49-year parking meter contract was arranged with National Parking Solutions/SCSI has attracted heavy scrutiny in the press.

This was not helped when the Mayor, 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 without the contract even being tendered.

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. There is a ‘honeymoon’ period in effect, which ends on January 23, where motorists will not have to pay for parking. According to the company, this is to allow motorists to get “accustomed”.

Penalties

Afterwards, however, any vehicle which has either not paid for parking or has exceeded their paid time will have their vehicle incapacitated by a tire booting device. This can be done whether the vehicle owner is present or not.

If the owner was not there, they will be greeted by the sight of their incapacitated vehicle and a sticker in their driver’s side 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.

It was pointed out by the Finance Ministry review that SCSI sought “absolute right” to determine the space, number of meters and the location boundaries. (Guyana Times)

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