Braving the weather, protesters lined up in front of City Hall earlier yesterday, decked in raincoats and holding placards against the paid parking initiative.
Their decision to break away from the norm of Thursdays “protest day” comes at the heels of it being announced that the City Council was holding an impromptu Statutory Meeting to discuss whether the recommendation by the Minister of Communities to suspend the paid parking by-laws, would be heeded. That meeting was postponed as City Council was unable to come to a consensus on the Minister’s order.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Councillors were moving to have the decision on the Minister’s request postponed since according to them, the Council needed time to study the legal advice they received regarding the order by Bulkan.
Heston Bostwick, an APNU Councillor moved a motion for this. “…Thereafter, we would be in a better legal frame of mind to determine the way forward” he noted.
The final vote, after being done twice before, concluded that 17 persons were for this motion, while seven were against and two abstained from voting.
While the protesters asserted their support towards the Government, more specifically the Minister to suspend the parking meter initiative, they were adamant that after this suspension which would allow for further arbitration, they expect that the contract be revoked since Guyana is not ready for such a project.
“We don’t want any suspension; we need it to go back to where it come from, that is all. Clearly, we don’t want it, back to Mexico,” one man said.
Another protester said “the decision to suspend is gracefully received but its not good enough, because after the suspension what happens after that? We are here to again, request a revocation of the contract. If it is not revoked and it goes back after three months to what it is, the whole thing is going to become very cancerous. We want SCSI out of this country.”
Member of Transparency International, George Fraser, says that the contract must go. “You cannot impose on a city and on an entire country something that you secretly do with foreigners. This is one of the reasons that I’m out here. I’m a Guyanese, I spent my entire life to deal with and do things for Guyana, I refuse to accept that somebody would go quietly and stupidly and sell my country and my city from under me.”
Other protesters voiced their belief that the Mayor has too much power.
Since its roll-out in late January, the project has attracted widespread criticism and recently, Cabinet recommended a three-month suspension pending a review.
But yesterday’s special Statutory Meeting at City Hall didn’t yield much result as Councillors could not agree on whether or not to adhere to the Minister’s suspension order. Councillors will meet again on Monday 27; while the High Court case regarding the legality of the project will next be heard on April 10. (Ramona Luthi; photos by Carl Croker)