While Central Government is fully aware of the cries and complaints of Guyanese, particularly in the capital city, about the new parking meter project, it has vowed that it would not put its hands into the affairs of Local Government.
That is, of course, contingent on the situation not getting out of hand. Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, chairing this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, said when Government made way for the holding of Local Government Elections last year, it also relinquished any role in the decision-making process of the local entities.
He said Cabinet had examined both the financial and legal aspects of the project, and had also received reviews from the Finance Ministry and the Chambers of the Attorney General. And while Cabinet has not removed its interest from the matter, it is very aware that City Hall needs to have some level of autonomy.
“So I believe Cabinet will continue to observe and will only intervene if it feels it is imperative to do so,” Trotman told Journalists at the Ministry of the Presidency.
On the issue of further consultation, Trotman said that there was not enough consultation that could address an issue.
“The idea of parking meters has been alive for many months; I believe that we need to wait to see how it will be implemented. I think the visual of empty streets says a lot and I believe that the people’s voice is not to be ignored and I believe that time will tell.”
He said the Georgetown Mayor and City Council was a democratic body and would make decisions that were not just for its own benefit.
Since the introduction of the parking meter project, there have been mounting protests about its inconvenience and irrelevance to Georgetown.
Those protests took on a larger and wider scale earlier this week when the project officially kicked off, with major stakeholders, particularly the Guyana Teachers Union, demanding that it be reviewed as it posed a heavy financial burden on the working class. The most recent protest took place on Tuesday in front of the homes of President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
The manner in which the parking meter contract, signed in November 2015, was arranged with National Parking Solutions/Smart City Solutions Incorporated (SCSI) has attracted heavy scrutiny in the press.
This was not helped when Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase Green, Town Clerk Royston King and 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 the former’s review, the glaring absence of a 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 fee amounts 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 19:00hrs.