Immediate forensic audit needed into M&CC, parking meter contract – Ali
In light of the ongoing public outrage over the controversial parking meter project, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Irfaan Ali is expected to move a motion in the National Assembly this week seeking to have a forensic audit conducted into the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and the metered parking contract.
According to Ali, in his motion, the M&CC, represented by Mayor Patricia Chase Green and Town Clerk Royston King, entered into a contractual agreement with a company (Smart City Solutions) for the installation of parking meters in Georgetown, without holding public consultations with national stakeholders or the citizens of the city.
“…The citizens of Georgetown and those who drive into and must traverse through the capital to reach other areas of the country have appealed to the Mayor and City Council to abandon this parking meter project because of the financial hardships it will inflict upon the people,” Ali said in the document to be tabled this Thursday.
He went on to point out that the Government, through the Ministries of Finance, Communities and Legal Affairs, has reviewed the parking meter contract and found that the contract may have violated tender procedures, was too much in favour of the parking meter company and the cost was burdensome. Despite these findings as well as public opposition, Ali said the Mayor and some Councillors have been adamant that the project would proceed.
The Opposition parliamentarian went on to outline in the motion that the company contracted to implement the project has been proceeding full steam ahead with its implementation plan, with aggressive promotion, importation of equipment and the hiring of staff.
He added too that there were many legal hurdles and protocols to address, including the yet-unresolved critical issue of whether the Mayor and City Council have authority over public roads such as Regent Street, Water Street and Avenue of the Republic, as well as other legal issues involved with granting policing authority to a private company.
With the Alliance For Change (AFC), the minority party which formed the coalition Government, and the Deputy Mayor having publicly stated their opposition to the parking meter project, Ali wants the National Assembly to call on the “Auditor General of Guyana to immediately conduct a forensic audit into the Georgetown Municipal Council, including the parking meter contract”.
Even as citizens continue to protest against and boycott metered parking in Georgetown, the M&CC last week received its first instalment of profits from the project.
The Council said on Wednesday that it has collected its 20 per cent takings from the gross earnings of Smart City Solutions on the parking meters. It noted too that the money received has been earmarked to do certain civil works, including upgrading existing Council roads and constructing new ones, developing sidewalks and pavements for pedestrians, cleaning and sustaining drains and canals related to roads, bridges and footpaths and the implementation of a city transport system particularly for children and senior citizens.
Despite a series of concessions on the parking fees that were announced some two weeks ago, there continues to be widespread boycotting of the project, with many drivers continuing to park outside of the metered zones.
Meanwhile, protest action against the project continues almost weekly in front of City Hall, with demonstrators calling for the project to be scrapped. This is in light of businesses experiencing reduced sales ever since the introduction of metered parking in January.
In addition to several officials calling for the project to be scrapped, several organisations have also joined the calls, including the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Opposition and more recently, the AFC.
Guyanese disapproval of the initiative is such that at least two legal suits have been filed, one by citizens and the other by a commercial bank, challenging the implementation of the project. Both matters are currently engaging the High Court’s attention.