…proposes fee of $10 – $20 (GYD) an hour for paid parking going forward
The newly formulated Parking Meter Committee, chaired by Mayor and City Council (M&CC) Councillor Malcom Ferriera, met with members of the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) on Tuesday afternoon as part of the Committee’s consultative process to engage stakeholders as the controversial parking meter contract is being reviewed following a 3 months suspension.
As members of the MAPM- which included an attorney- opened the discussions, they stated and emphasized that they are not against the introduction of a paid parking system in Guyana- specifically the city, but they are objecting to the current project on the grounds of lack of transparency, lack of adherence to the Public Procurement process and lack of consultation with the public.
They then proceeded to call for full and complete revocation of the purported parking meter contract between the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and parking meter contractors, Smart City Solution Inc. (SCSI).
“We maintain that the contract is illegal ab initio and as such, it is a legally untenable and impractical position to seek to renegotiate an illegality. In simple terms, there is no quick fix. It must be scrapped and the process restarted in accordance with law and the basic principles of good governance- due process, transparency and accountability, all of which were lacking prior,” their statement to the Parking Meter Committee said.
MAPM emphasized that the absence of tendering in accordance to the laws of Guyana, particularly the Constitution of Guyana, the Public Procurement Act and the Municipal and District Councils Act is an insurmountable deficiency of the current purported contract.
“We noted the Mayor’s comments as carried in certain sections of the media to the effect that tendering was not necessary since it was the contractor who approached the Council. However, this position is not grounded in law or logic. There is no exception in any of the Acts. Sections 232, 233 and 234 of the Municipal and District Council’s Act, which undoubtedly directly governs this Council specifies that any contract above the sum of GYD$250,000 must be tendered.”
In addressing the Council’s justification that the current paid parking system would provide the much needed revenue for the M&CC to adequately function, the MAPM posited that the projected figures and actual figures earned as compared to the reported deficit of the council “does not make a strong argument for the Council,” and as such, the people of Guyana “out right reject this argument.”
“The ratio of 80% to SCSI and 20% to M&CC for paid parking and 10% for Value Added Services further dilutes this position, particularly where other options are available which would yield higher revenue with lower impact. The absence of a deposit by SCSI also acts contrary to the revenue earning argument,” they explained to the listening ears of the Committee.
Moreover, the Movement sought to poke holes into the other argument used by the M&CC to defend the parking meter initiative- which is that it eases traffic congestion. According to them [MAPM], there was no evidence to support this claim.
“We have to date, not seen a feasibility study and/ or impact study which would support this position.” They also explained that the mandate of traffic congestion falls on the shoulders of the police according to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act.
In concluding, they sought to remind the Committee that court proceedings regarding the legality of the parking meter contract are still pending and as such, they explained that it would be prudent to await the outcome so as not to lead to further complications, especially if the court is against the contract.
They reiterated again that the purported contract must be rescinded, and a new contract can be drafted in accordance to the law.
Chairman of the Parking Meter Committee, Malcom Ferriera expressed appreciation at the fact that the MAPM came prepared for an engaging discussion.
After almost an hour of listening to the arguments put forward by the MAPM as to why the contract should be rescinded, Ferriera inquired as to what their thoughts on the parking meter fees were.
One representative of the Movement posited that based on several interactions with members of the public, a fee of $10-$20 (GYD) an hour was considered adequate, with a package deal for employees, which would be a lower cost.
In their defence for what may have been deemed a low cost, the MAPM contrasted the economic status of Guyana to the United States (US), highlighting that the amount Guyanese were being forced to pay for parking was almost equivalent to what was being charged in the US.
However, they explained that based on the income level in the first world country, the parking meter fee for one of the most expensive states in the US, amounted to 13 per cent of their monthly income, while in Guyana, the cost for parking for the average person cost a whopping 49 percent of their monthly income.
More consultations are expected to be held with other members of the public during the week.
The parking meter committee was established on April 26 2017, one month after the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan suspended the paid parking initiative.
It’s members consist of Malcolm Ferreira (Chairman), Roopnarine Persaud, Noelle Chow-Chee (VC), Ivelaw Henry, Trichria Richards, Carlyle Goring, and Heston Bostwick.
The Committee’s Terms of Reference (TOR) was drafted and voted upon by the majority of members of the M&CC. The TOR provides the committee with the authority to “engage with all stakeholders within the parameters of the framework agreed upon by the Council, Cabinet and Smart City Solutions (SCSI) to seek to determine what terms of the Agreement can and should be negotiated to bring the contract in harmony with the desires of the Council, Central Government, SCSI and the citizenry.”
In addition to that, it obligates the committee members “to listen to proposals made by the other concerned parties and report same back to the Council for the council to make a decision on whether to accept or reject the said proposals,” “to advocate Council’s position in relation to the contract being mindful of the concerns of all the stakeholders,” to put forward workable solutions to any impasse that may arise with a view to arriving at an agreement that is mutually beneficial to all the stakeholders,” and “refer all financial suggestions to the Council’s Financial Committee for its opinion and /or advice.”
The committee members are responsible for negotiating the position taken by the Mayor and City council with regards to the parking meters among themselves, then upon conclusion of the negotiating period, they are required to prepare a report and present same to Council at a meeting called for that purpose, setting out the proposals and or agreements arrived at.
Since having been elected, the members were sworn to secrecy pending the submission of a report of recommendations to the M&CC.
M&CC had entered into a contract with SCSI on May 13, 2016, for parking meters to be implemented in Georgetown.
However, the project came under intense scrutiny and rejections from various public and private stakeholders, the Opposition and even some Central government officials over the clandestine way it was being foisted unto the populace, its prohibitive pricing and the contracting company’s general disregard with the way the new mechanism was introduced to the public, among many other concerns.
After becoming effective in late January, 2017, several large protests were staged in front of City Hall calling for the contract to be revoked, while multiple stakeholders took the M&CC and the SCSI to court over the matter.
Following a barrage of continuous onslaught form all sides, on March 21 2017, the Minister of Communities who had initially passed the by-laws bringing parking meters into effect, ordered that it be suspended for a period of three months to facilitate the re-negotiations of the terms of the contract. (Ramona Luthi)