In an effort to implement order to what is viewed as unacceptable parking practices in the city, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has moved to introduce a paid parking lot system.
One of the areas targeted is the East Street tarmac, situated obliquely south of the Georgetown Hospital.
Up to two weeks ago this area was open to hospital staffers, visitors and members of the public to park their vehicles. But a controversy is brewing ever since the M&CC refurbished the space under the Georgetown Restoration Project.
Persons desirous of using the newly constructed parking lot are now required to pay a fee of $360 for one hour of parking. Motorists will be required to pay an additional $300 every hour after.
Mayor Hamilton Green told Kaieteur News that the construction of the parking lot was done by a private contractor after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the M&CC.
According to the Mayor, the project is currently under discussion by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and is still in its testing stage.
Green explained that the M&CC is trying to inject some level of discipline to the public. He stated that the Council is trying to encourage citizens to heed traffic laws.
He added that the Council will be embarking on more projects of such nature in the Central Business District of the city, especially Regent and Robb Streets.
In addition, Green disclosed that the M&CC is currently working on the implementation of a law that will prohibit container trucks from parking alongside roadways.
However, although the Municipal body sees the implementation of the paid parking lot as a way of maintaining law and order and beautifying the city, several residents and business owners on East Street are not pleased and have voiced their concerns.
Social Activist, Mark Benschop told this newspaper that a number of residents in the area have approached him about the situation.
He said that City Hall is working in a “dictorial” manner, since they never consulted with residents before putting the facility in place. According to Benschop, “City Hall has done an illegal and non-democratic act.”
Kaieteur News understands that the social activist facilitated a meeting with residents of the community and the contractor, where several questions were raised.
Efforts were also made to invite the Mayor and Town Clerk, Royston King to the meeting. But these efforts were futile. He went on to say that “City Council bullied their way, went into the area and erected the parking lot”.
Efforts made by this publication to contact the Town Clerk, about the issue were also unsuccessful.
When Kaieteur News visited the area yesterday, vehicle owners seemed reluctant to park in the lot. Motorists resorted to parking their vehicles alongside the already narrow road.
There was one car and a motorcycle in the paid parking lot.
Taxi drivers operating with the Crown Taxi Service located on East Street, said that it would work out costly for them to utilize the parking lot. One of the taxi drivers explained, “If we got to come in this parking lot 10 times per day and we got to pay 10 times $300. You’re talking about over $3,000.”
The driver asked, “How much money we could work for to pay the parking lot, put gas, pay base fee and maintain we car?”
Almost every resident on East Street has one or two cars and depended on the space to park their vehicles, especially at nights.
A resident, who has been living in the community for over a decade, said that persons do not agree to pay to have their vehicles parked there. The woman who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity said that the Council never held discussions with residents before they implemented the facility.
She stated that people are now parking along the road, which is causing traffic congestion on the busy week days.
“If you got to go to the hospital and the doctor take six to seven hours to look you after. This means you to pay a set of money just to leave you car in there”, the woman added.
Another resident, who gave her name as Akeisha said that she feels cheated and disrespected by the Council’s move. She stressed that City Hall should not go in the area and do as they please without interacting with residents.
The woman stated that there are lots of vacant lots around the city for the Council to set up their money making business.
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