By Dr Leslie Ramsammy
The Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, defiantly confessed in a brazen statement yesterday that paid parking is a fact of life in Georgetown. He was not offering an opinion opened for discussion and dialogue, he was informing the people of another APNU+AFC’s imposition. Essentially, he announced that paid parking is a policy direction being pursued by APNU+AFC. It is a declaration to the citizens of Georgetown and all citizens of Guyana that regardless of their views, APNU+AFC is imposing paid parking on citizens in Georgetown. It is also a threat because before long paid-parking will come to a community near where people live. New Amsterdam, Corriverton, Anna Regina, Charity, Parika, Vreed-en-Hoop, Linden and other places are under severe threat for paid parking.
I happened to have spoken to the Leader of the Opposition and the General Secretary of the PPP, Dr. Bharat Jagdeo, on this matter and I can say conclusively that he and the PPP does not support this policy directive. In fact, he has stated unequivocally that no RDC or NDC or municipality where the PPP is in the majority will ever introduce paid parking and that a PPP government will not approve paid-parking by any municipality, NDC or RDC.
Bulkan’s announcement confirmed what many of us have known from the beginning – the parking meter fiasco is wholly an APNU+AFC monster. In the midst of open resistance, Bulkan’s brazen announcement that paid parking in Georgetown is as certain as death is another total betrayal of the Guyanese people. It is a stern rebuke and a smack in the faces of people, in general, and specifically the thousands of people who for eight successive weeks stood in protest of the “green monsters” and the many civic society organizations that pleaded for the re-examination of the parking meter contract and paid parking.
Across the board, irrespective of political affiliation, race and ethnicity, laborers and workers and employers, people in their individual capacities and as part of civic society organizations were loud in their condemnation of the parking meter contract and the policy of paid parking. People were unafraid to speak up and stand up. Their voices were heard in Georgetown, across the country and throughout the Caribbean and the diaspora. APNU+AFC was forced to pay attention, even if they refused to hear the voices and feel the resistance of the people.
As they have done from the beginning, APNU+AFC arrogantly and authoritatively dismiss people’s concerns and hurt. Their view of governance is they impose and people prostrate to those impositions. From the beginning, APNU+AFC has been complicit with the Mayor and the City Council (M&CC) and Smart City Solution (SCS) in imposing the “contract from hell” on the people of Georgetown and Guyana. At each step of the way, APNU+AFC has exposed the truth – it is in charge and calling the shots. The M&CC gang of four (Chase-Green, Oscar Clarke, Councilor Garret and Royston King) might have signed and been on the front line, but this was an APNU+AFC contract from the get-go.
That it is an APNU+AFC brainchild and baby is amply demonstrated by the strange behavior from the start. AFC has tried to distance itself and elements of APNU have also tried the distancing game, but these are the same people that sit at Cabinet, a Cabinet fully aware from the start and fully complicit with the M&CC in imposing the “green monsters” on the people. Instead of revoking the “contract from hell”, APNU+AFC has twisted like a pretzel in trying to find ways to block and destroy the resistance to the parking meter.
APNU+AFC is guilty of not only approving the contract, they also approved and formalized the by-laws without which the contract was not implementable. In the face of resistance, they tried placating the public by instructing that the parking rate per hour be reduced. This was followed by an attempt to reduce the brutal penalties associated with the contract. Then they instructed the M&CC to suspend the contract for three months to allow another review. To facilitate this review they instructed that the M&CC suspend the by-laws, but then those by-laws were approved by Bulkan himself. It was all a game to buy time and wait out the public resistance.
All their antics were always measures to buy time. The monstrosity of the contract was never of any concern to Bulkan and APNU+AFC. How could it be? It was their own concoction. Now they are betting that the people’s outrage would dissipate in this three month period and the paid parking will reappear in Georgetown. For those who were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, the truth is now out. APNU+AFC is driving the policy of paid parking in Georgetown. Make no mistake, marginal changes will be made and the SCS “green monsters” will be back in operation. It was always about buying time to introduce paid parking against the will of the people.
But the announcement that paid parking is a policy direction that APNU+AFC is fully supportive of is an ominous threat to people all around Guyana. Because now it is Georgetown and tomorrow is for every other area. APNU+AFC has shown that it is determined to suck the blood out of people. Instead of raising money from growing the economy, APNU+AFC is determined to tax people and find every way possible for people to support their Lamborghini lifestyle, while driving the people back to a “donkey cart” economy.