The Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI) has issued a strongly worded statement against the controversial parking meter project- calling for the deal to be rescinded- and the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) for its complicit role in ‘unilaterally’ bequeathing “its streets and its people to Smart City Solutions (SCS).”
See full statement below:
Recent revelations about the original contract for parking meters in Georgetown confirm that the deal was not in the best interest of the people. This leaves little to question about the shroud of secrecy surrounding it. The lack of transparency in the handling of the deal is a telling blow to good governance and the repercussions will visit future generations if the deal is not rescinded.
Equally damning is the sustained vilification of those who dare to stand up including some Councillors. The Mayor and Town Clerk are at the forefront of this onslaught but have not monopolised this function. The extent of collusion between City Hall and the contractor is such that boundaries have been obliterated as exemplified by a director boldly, defiantly and repeatedly hurling derogatory remarks at the citizens. But this can be done with the security that the contract provides since City Hall appears to have done all it could to bequeath its streets and its people to Smart City Solutions (SCS).
The problems with the parking meter deal are well-known and many have written about them. In our article that was published on August 9, 2016 in several of the dailies, TIGI identified the combination of a lack of transparency and secrecy surrounding the contract, violation of procurement laws, alignment of interest of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and the contractor in the trip to Mexico and the inaction of central government given the Ministry of Finance’s review of the contract as “a telling blow to transparency, accountability and good governance”.
Three recent developments that can be added to the laundry list are (1) the implementation of penalties prior to ratification of the by-laws necessary to support such actions (2) the exorbitant penalties for parking infringements and (3) SCS’s absolution from responsibility for vehicles of which they take possession. Such problems are expected when planning, consultations and procurement essentials are by-passed and it is significant that central government including the President, Cabinet and the responsible Minister invoked a non-interference stance even while the people were unable to access needed information about the deal.
It is the people who bear the burden of poor governance and they have decided to resist. The Mayor’s and Town Clerk’s retaliation to the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) is therefore in poor taste though consistent with their management of the project so far. The MAPM has galvanised the people into action against sustained abuse and disregard. The movement is based on the legal and governance issues of which the economic burden on citizens and the implementation maladies are merely symptomatic. The movement is consistent with democratic principles and exemplifies freethinking that transcends social divides and political ideologies. This is predictably abhorred, opposed and denigrated by City Hall.
The parking meters’ debacle and the civil action against the deal resulted from the poor governance of the M&CC. The Mayor’s attempt to blame the Deputy Mayor is also in poor taste but consistent with the alternative reality that explains the actions of the top echelons of the City Council. TIGI wishes to recognise the contributions of the Councillors who stood up for the people and are now under attack by City Hall. The people have a right to know what the city is doing and given the circumstances, we believe that you have done your job. TIGI also recognises and stands with the MAPM on this matter. We commend the public on taking up its duty to reject unilateral impositions of such dire consequences. We finally encourage citizens to always ensure that your voices are heard and to spare no effort to communicate your views to your leaders, within the law and the provisions of democracy.