Suspension of parking meter contract a trick to end protests – Ramsammy

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Below is a commentary by Dr Leslie Ramsammy on government’s purported suspension of the parking meter project for 3 months:

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

APNU+AFC is now using KERFUFFLING as dark art to trick people. The recent request to the M&CC to suspend the parking meter contract is a trick, hoping to buy time for the protests to disappear. But the people cannot be fooled so easily. Rather than immediate revocation, APNU+AFC’s timid request for a three-month suspension only heightens the suspicion that there is something unholy about the parking meter contract.

The arrogance of SCS, the parking meter company, in their refusal to comply with court orders and their attempt to disavow a Cabinet decision this week adds to the suspicion of corruption that goes all the way to the belly of APNU+AFC. What gives SCS such spunk?

Citizens in their individual capacities and as part of various organizations, political, civil and cultural, have made their feelings clear from the start – the parking meter contract is a corrupt deal, among the most corrupt in our history and a “contract from hell”.

Citizens are not ambiguous, they are explicit and clear – the contract must be revoked. This past Thursday, people came out in overwhelming numbers for the 7th straight week to demand the termination of the contract. No one is asking any more for reduced rates and less punitive measures, everyone is demanding the revocation. The solidarity of the citizens had political support from the PPP even before the public protests started. Now the AFC and the WPA, partners in the APNU+AFC coalition, have also come out supporting revocation.

But the Government, a coalition that includes the PNC, WPA and AFC, remains stubborn, twisting like a pretzel in finding ways for the protest to go away. Having reviewed the contract and allowing it to be implemented and having provided the empowering platform, the parking meter by-laws, APNU+AFC first sought to placate people by negotiating with the M&CC and the SCS to reduce the parking rates.

They followed by asking for the suspension of the wheel clamping. As the protests persisted, APNU+AFC last week, through President Granger’s right-hand man, Joe Harmon, announced that APNU+AFC is awaiting further inputs from the citizens before it takes further action. It was a galling insult to the Guyanese people whose views have been clear by their public protests, town hall meetings, letters to the government, letters in the media, social media protests, etc. for several months now.

In the midst of the 7th protest, APNU+AFC announced that Cabinet has requested the M&CC to suspend the contract for three months. But the call for a suspension is another trick as APNU+AFC twists even more than the most twisted pretzel.

Given that individuals in the government have expressed their agreement with the people that the contract is, indeed, a “contract from hell” and given that the AFC and the WPA have now come out and denounce the contract, one has to wonder why APNU+AFC is sticking with the contract.

APNU+AFC is hoping and betting that after three months the public scorn for this contract would “cool off” and the contract would quietly be resumed. They are completely under-estimating the revulsion the people have for the “contract from hell”.

If President Granger and his colleagues, including Cabinet members from WPA and AFC, are so convinced that the contract is inimical to the national interest and is deficient in its compliance with our procurement laws, why then all this kerfuffling?

They already reviewed the contract. Both the Ministries of Legal Affairs and the Attorney General and the Ministry of Finance did detailed reviews. The President had meetings with the M&CC and the SCS. The people’s views have been front and center for the last two months in the form of public protest, town halls, media publications and on social media.

Something is rotten in this deal and the reluctance of APNU+AFC to act decisively exposes the complicity of APNU+AFC. There is an unholy interest in keeping the contract that have led people to believe the contract was concocted at Congress Place between Cush of the National Parking System and one or more persons from the PNC. Could this be the reason why APNU+AFC is so engaged in this kerfuffling game and why they are twisting like a  pretzel to buy time for the protests to go away?

Mark my word, in three months time, the protests will still be alive! APNU+AFC will not be able to trick people. Three months will not help. There is nothing more for us to find out in another review of the contract. It is a “contract from hell”, as the reviews by the Ministries of Legal Affairs and Finance and the Attorney General revealed before. There is nothing new that APNU+AFC can discover in the next three months. It is a rotten, corrupt, stench-disgusting contract. Another review will not remove the stench of corruption from this contract. The only decent thing right now is for the complete, unequivocal revocation of the contract.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

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