The Mayor and City Council (M&CC), through its Town Clerk Royston King, has announced that they have received their twenty percent (20%) takings from Smart City Solutions Inc. (SCSI) the company responsible for the installed parking meters within Georgetown.
Furthermore, the Council says it is also happy to report that more motorists are using the Parking Meters, “particularly, in very busy areas of the central business district of the city. The Council, through a special technology, can see, in real time, the performance of the parking meters, on a daily basis” King outlined in his statement.
According to King, the Council has no responsibility for expenses related to the parking meter project, since all expenses are managed by SCSI.
Moreover, he outlined that “the money from the Parking Meter initiative has been earmarked to do certain civil works including upgrading existing Council roads and constructing new ones, developing sidewalks and pavements for pedestrians, clean and sustain drains and canals related to roads, bridges and foot paths and the implementation of a city transport system particularly for children and senior citizens.”
“The money is needed to enhance the council’s very narrow revenue base to provide a wide range of vital municipal services to local communities and the city as a whole. These include: Public and environmental health services, street lighting, maternal and child welfare services, maintain of cemeteries, enforcement of the city building codes and by-laws, and open spaces, parks and recreational facilities” said King.
However, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is convinced, that in addition to the M&CC, the parking meter contract was designed to finance the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) because he believes a significant part of the proceeds will go towards Congress Place.
Jagdeo during a presser earlier this week noted that this is the reason why the coalition government has no regard for public outcries against the much rejected parking meter project, highlighting that the initiative has little to do with the Mayor and City Council (M&CC).
“This is a corrupt deal and it leads all the way to Congress Place. This has very little to do with the City Council officials; it has to do with Congress Place,” he stated.
Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Green had said that the gross income garnered by the project will be divided, with the city receiving 20 percent and the parking meter contractors, Smart City Solutions gaining 80 percent.
Former government Minister under the PPP/C Dr Leslie Ramsammy had said in the media prior to Jagdeo’s assertions that “from the start public outrage was driven by the suspicion that this was a deal to enrich individuals and certain organisations. There has always been the nauseating suspicion that the national space in Georgetown is being used as a cash cow, not to fund development in Georgetown, but filling people’s pockets. Now comes information that, in fact, the “terror” contract clause that provides 80 per cent to the parking meter company (Smart City Solutions/National Parking Systems) and 20 per cent to the M&CC is just a paper provision and that the real distribution of the earnings from the “green monsters” is really 50 percent to SCSI, 20 percent to the M&CC, 20 per cent to the People’s National Congress and 10 per cent to individuals”.
The Parking meter initiative was introduced to Guyanese last year June, and the contract for some forty nine years was signed shortly after. However, after it was reviewed by the Attorney General, and the Finance Ministry, and proved to be ‘burdensome’ the contracted duration of the parking meter project was reduced to twenty years.
The ‘exorbitant’ prices for paid parking in Georgetown was also reviewed twice and decreased after facing considerable flack from all quarters. The business community, the populace and all parties who were affected by the instillation of paid parking meters had voiced their ‘disgust’ and ‘anger’ at the M&CC initiative which they said were foisted on them unilaterally in breach of the procurement and tendering laws among others.
Since the roll out of the paid parking initiative, citizens have rejected it. A movement was formed against it, and thus far, four major silent protests have been staged to have the contract revoked. Another protest by the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) is scheduled to take place tomorrow in front of City Hall.
Some went further and have taken the M&CC to Court to halt the implementation of paid parking in Georgetown.
There has been widespread refusal to accept the initiative which the M&CC says is intended to curb traffic congestion in the city and give the cash strapped Council the money it needs to provide the services outlined above.