The East Street car park was built by the former administration to accommodate the growing number of vehicles that take visitors, patients and staff to the Georgetown Public Hospital. The greater part of the parking lot was a hospital car park.
It has now been taken over by the Georgetown municipality. The government is not objecting to this possession.
The protests are emanating from a different source. The residents of the areas are complaining that they have nowhere to park. They cannot afford the prohibitive rates that are charged by the Council – which is essentially profiteering from the large volume of traffic that use that vicinity and which require parking space.
The exact financial arrangements that the Council has entered into over the management of that park is not known. It is has not been revealed just how much is being paid to the persons who operate the park or whether it is the Council which has to pay those that erected the barriers around the perimeter.
There are many unanswered questions about the new operations of City Hall. No attempt was made by City Hall to explain whether it was lawful of them to collect monies from businesses on Regent Street on a daily basis that sell on the pavement.
No attempt was made by the media to investigate the legality of the collection of monies from vendors over the Christmas holidays. Were these sources of revenue approved by the Ministry of Communities? Were they lawful?
This has implications for the East Street car park. Is there lawful authorization for that activity of collecting fees for parking?
The Council also removed vendors from one section of the Merriman Mall and placed them in another section after protests. But it has not explained how it is that certain businesses are allowed to be permanently established at the head of that particular section where the temporary vendors are relocated. There are more questions than answers and these questions need to be answered.
The monies that the Council will earn from parking fees are a pittance in terms of their own financial needs. Parking fees are not going to become a major revenue spinner, because the people of Guyana cannot afford the fees that are being charged. There is, however, a need for provision to be made for parking, but this should not be at the expense of residents, such as the residents of East Street. Where are these residents expected to park the vehicles at night? Where are they expected to park in during the daytime when they are not home?
No consideration seems to have been given to the hardships that have been created by the system of paid parking on East Street. It is unfair for the residents, who are also ratepayers of the Council and entitled to their services, to be denied the right to parking. The decision to establish this paid parking lot should be challenged as an infringement of the right of property owners, because they have nowhere to park now. It is simply unacceptable.
The City Council is doing a wonderful job in cleaning the city. But their plans at rationalizing vending and parking seem to be driven by financial considerations rather than balancing these considerations with the interests of the people.
The Council can easily approach the government for a surcharge on rates and taxes – which are extremely low in any event – and that surcharge will more than compensate for the revenues that will be gained by the parking lots, if the Council is at all making any money from these lots.
We do not know just what they are making, because the deals that they have entered into with private businesses have not been made public.
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