‘Everything is wrong with this horrible deal from hell’ – Ramkarran
– urges Guyanese to boycott the highly controversial Parking Meter project
Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran, believes that if Guyanese continue to boycott the highly controversial Metered Parking Project, then the Administrators will eventually give up on its implementation.
In his popular weekly column, ‘Conversation Tree’, Ramkarran pointed out that the divide and rule policy of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and Smart City Solutions (SCS) – the company contracted to carry out the paid parking initiative, is in full force with concessions being granted to those who negotiate, thereby giving credibility to the monopolistic secret deal.
“The danger of some people being entrapped by concessions could potentially weaken or even derail the movement to resist the monopolistic secret deal. If more people park and pay, the City Council and SCS will feel that it would be only a matter of time before we all cave in and their obduracy will be strengthened.”
To this end, he outlined that it is necessary for the ‘Movement Against Parking Meters’ (MAPM) to continue to lead and inspire the peaceful resistance of metered parking. If SCS and the City Council expand the metered area to make it difficult to park outside the metered zone and walk, then Ramkarran suggested that persons must be prepared to take other measures to park but not to pay.
“Motor vehicles owners must starve the green monsters. They must park outside the zone. If the city is prepared to resist for as long as it takes, the green monsters will starve and die… The review of the charges and the draconian penalties show that the SCS and the City Council are on the run! Keep them running!”
On Friday, the M&CC and SCS announced the resumption of paid parking in the city with a series of changes to the payment structure. This is despite pending High Court actions and orders, putting a stay on the project.
According to Ramkarran, taking a wave of promises of transparency made by the governing coalition seriously, Guyanese culminated in relatively large numbers in the street protests, rejecting the monopolistic parking meter secret deal.
“A less than transparent City Council entered into a secret agreement with foreigners and a Guyanese ex-con, who believed that we can be shafted.
The plot emerged in secret: take total possession of our city streets for 20 years, with a potential of 20 more, rent them out to us at exorbitant prices, pocket and take away millions in foreign exchange, leave only a pittance for Guyanese. As MAPM’s latest pamphlet put it, the City Council contributed the major part of the investment, our land, and will receive the minor part of the return, 20 per cent. One person described it as a contract from hell,” the former Speaker penned in his weekly column.
He went on to say Guyanese were deceived by SCS with a plagiarised website from its sister company, pretending to have first world experience. Ramkarran continued that it is on this basis that its first charges, as shown in MAPM’s pamphlet, were higher than the highest in the US. He added that even with the 50 per cent reduction, the rates would still be higher than the highest and still unaffordable to most Guyanese.
The former Speaker added that, among the other elements of the secret agreement between City Council and SCS is the granting of a monopoly to the foreign company. Ramkarran pointed out that monopolies are unlawful under the Civil Law of Guyana Act, which was the main complaint against the Guyana Telegraph and Telephone Company (GTT).
The Senior Counsel pointed to the fact that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was established to fix rates because of that monopoly held by GTT. On this note, he added that this secret parking meter deal has now been challenged in court as unlawful on the ground that there was no tender process and that it is a monopoly.
According to Ramkarran, the objective of utility commissions, like the PUC, is to protect the public interest and no sane Guyanese can now rely on the City Council to do so. He noted that the parking meter charges and their reduction were fixed in secret discussions between the City Council and SCS, without any regard for the economy of Guyana and the capacity of vehicle owners to pay.
“What is to prevent the SCS monopoly, in collusion with the City Council, in the absence of a utility commission, or public scrutiny, to unilaterally increase charges? It is an unregulated monopoly, which would be unacceptable anywhere else. Everything is wrong with this horrible deal from hell – secrecy, monopoly, disadvantage, profiteering, exploitation, plagiarism.”