… GCCI fears economic slowdown will worsen
By Devina Samaroo
Officials from the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and Smart City Solutions (SCS) strutted through the capital city on Tuesday, booting vehicles despite a court order which placed a hold on the paid parking project.
However, this is not the first time the M&CC has flouted a court order; back in May 2006, Town Clerk Royston King spearheaded the destruction the the famous ‘Dread Shop’, located at Russell Square in Stabroek, Georgetown – a business which has been in existence for some 48 years, despite an injunction in the courts.
It was high drama on Water Street on Tuesday when SCS officials attempted to clamp the vehicles of persons who parked in the area without paying.
But in some cases, the citizens put up a fight and resisted the clamping of their vehicles.
In one instance, a female driver argued with the SCS official and refused to allow him to clamp her car, which resulted in a heated exchange of words.
The High Court on February 16 granted an order which legal luminaries interpreted to mean that the paid parking project is suspended until the legal proceedings are resolved.
The writ had stated, among other things, that, “an order nisi of certiorari be and is hereby granted to quash the decision of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown to enter into an agreement on or around 13 May, 2016”.
The respondents also have to show cause against all the orders made by the Chief Justice to quash their decision to enter into the contract, which has already caused weekly mass protests in front of City Hall.
Their day in court is set for February 27, before Justice Brassington Reynolds. Should they fail to comply, the document noted, they will be held in contempt of court.
However, Mayor Patricia Chase Green and the Town Clerk had already signalled their intention to breach the court order.During a pre-recorded press conference at the National Communications Network (NCN), the Mayor announced that the parking meter project would continue as normal. Their intentions have been heavily criticised by lawyers from the lobby group Movement Against Parking Meters as well as former Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
Nandlall had argued that if the city were to continue implementing the project or force anyone to pay for parking before the hearing, this would be tantamount to violating a court order.
He explained that when that “order nisi” is issued, it puts the particular decision, which it imputes, upon hold until the respondents show or does not show cause. If the other side succeeds in showing cause why the order should not be made absolute, then the order nisi is discharged.
However, he noted that if the respondents do fail to show cause, then the order nisi is upheld and made absolute, thus quashing the decision.
“What that means, therefore, is that until the case is concluded, the decision (in this case) the parking meter contract and its implementation has been put on hold by the order nisi.”
Impact on business
Meanwhile, the calls for the termination of the Parking Meter Project continue to escalate and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is the latest entity to reiterate those demands.
In a statement on Tuesday, the GCCI said it is irresponsible for the M&CC to continue with the metered system due to a lack of transparency during the implementation process, a lack of adherence to public procurement procedures, and the absence of feasibility studies and citizen consultations.
“The M&CC should remember that one of the most important qualities that citizens seek in elected officials is transparency and any attempts to bulldoze the populace with opaque contracts will not garner support, especially not from the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce,” the body noted.
The Chamber said it received numerous complaints from its membership regarding the metered system and its negative effect on customer traffic and sales.
“We are concerned that conditions will worsen if the metered system remains in operation,” GCCI said.
Nonetheless, the Chamber said it supports the efforts to engage in public-private partnerships for the purpose of raising revenue for the city, but emphasised that it does not support the flawed and in some cases, potentially illegal methods that the M&CC has employed in doing so.
But time and again, the M&CC gang assured that the project is above board and that there is nothing secretive or illegal about the deal.
Following a few days of protest against the Parking Meter Project and protracted intervention from the central government, the authorities at City Hall decided to review with rate structure.
A new rate structure was announced but citizens continue to reject the initiative.
Stakeholders are arguing that the reduced fees do not address the problems of lack of inclusivity and the rampant corruption believed to be involved in the arrangement. (Guyana Times)