-consortium paid for plane tickets, hotels
City officials have vowed to steam ahead with plans to introduce parking meters with the
first rollout expected by September 1st.
The disclosures were made, yesterday, during a press conference by top officials of the Mayor and City Councillors of Georgetown (M&CC) who also said that a recent trip to Mexico and Panama was to complete its due diligence of the contractor, “National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions”.
This would have been months after the contract was sealed last November. The officials claimed that it would not have been proper or ethical to visit Mexico and Panama before the contract was signed. The trip and hotel stay for the delegation were paid for by the consortium
Present at the event were Mayor Patricia Chase-Green; Town Clerk, Royston King; Head of the Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke; Finance Committee member, Junior Garrett, and other administrative officers of the municipality.
The officials came under fire recently for a trip to Mexico and Panama to check on how the consortium was managing the parking meters there.
The issue has been dominating headlines with Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan, saying that he could find little evidence of the two companies and their work.
NPS is owned by US-based Guyanese, Ifa Kamau Cush, who had submitted a proposal since 1996, Mayor Chase-Green said yesterday.
Checks by Kaieteur News had found that NPS did not have an office at the Park Avenue, Manhattan address that it listed on its website. There was also little information on Smart City Solutions Inc., the company with which Cush teamed up.
A good consortium
According to the Mayor, based on the trip to Mexico and Panama, she is confident that the consortium has what it takes to successfully manage parking meters around the city streets.
In the initial pilot phase, M&CC will be targeting a pilot project that will include South Road, Regent Street, Stabroek, Camp Street and Church Street that will see the creation of 1,500 parking spaces to be controlled by solar-power meters, Chase-Green disclosed.
The consortium is promising to invest US$10M.
According to Clarke, much of the controversy that has been swirling around has been unfounded and hearsay.
The introduction of the parking meters will bring a cultural change with the potential to make the city the best in the region.
Questioned about another company, “Astrolobe Technology Inc.,” which claimed that it was unfairly dropped, King said that the city has no records of Astrolobe’s application on file, although he saw the agreement that was signed with Beulah Williams, a former Town Clerk.
Astrolobe was however granted an opportunity to make a presentation. The consortium was by far the best.
The officials made it clear that all contracts for M&CC are signed by the Town Clerk with the one with the consortium handled under the previous council. New councillors were brief this year.
The Mayor and her team yesterday stressed that the contract signed in November was what was used to proceed.
Chase-Green warned that she is not prepared to release the contract to the public as there have been painful experiences in the past where documents were leaked, including a proposal with the Canadian Bank Note, causing the city to lose. Rather, councillors have the possibilities of perusing the contract at the office of the Town Clerk.
It was disclosed that the parking meter project, which will bring in 20 percent of the gross of the revenues to the city, with zero investment by the council, will also see the hiring of more than 100 workers. The 20 percent was arrived at after intense negotiations with the players, the city officials said.
Chase-Green was critical of media coverage which claimed she was in Mexico to purchase parking meters. She said she is not a procurement officer. Rather her trip to Mexico and Panama was to have a first-hand view on how the system works.
She was also critical of concerns raised, saying that it was unfortunate that persons had taken to social media.
She stressed that minutes of the May 23 meeting would tell a story of the how the City Council was fully aware of the Mexico trip.
According to the minutes, the council, including the Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan, was told that Smart City Solution Inc. had invited M&CC to view its operations and that the invitation was accepted.
Chase-Green also noted that as Mayor, she had the right to choose the best team to accompany her on the trip which was paid for by the contractor.
According to Clarke, a team met with Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, yesterday morning, and presented him with a copy of the contract.
Last week, the Minister expressed reservations saying that councillors should hold off lending support until more information is available.
According to Clarke, based on what Minister Bulkan was told, M&CC is confident that Cabinet will hear a different message, from the ones seen in the press.
M&CC has legal possibilities even now to contest anything it is not happy about.
Questioned about the lack of internet information on the consortium, an upset Mayor declared that it would not be enough to use Google and Wikipedia and the consortium is very real and the facts of what was on the ground in Panama and Mexico would speak for itself.
According to the city officials, the final costs for using the meters are still being negotiated with the drivers definitely not having to pay $500 per hour as is being reported.
Already, the consortium has shipped a parking meter which will be used for demonstrations.
In a read statement, the Mayor said that the visit was paid for by Smart City Solutions Inc. as the city did not have a budget for the visit.
“To be sure, due diligence of a layperson may be conducted via Google and Wikipedia. However, that is not the standard of clinical analysis by which City officials must discharge their duties in protecting the well-being of our citizens and advancing the continued development of our city, hence, our visit.”
There is a zero cost to the city. “And, Smart City will deliver a modem, environmentally friendly and state-of-the-art parking platform, which will achieve the goals of improving mobility, increasing parking space availability and turnover, reducing traffic congestion in Georgetown, and paying a share of its revenues to our city.”
She said that consortium boasts of the recent achievement of being the first to install parking meters in Lima, Peru; in Panama; and its position as a distributor of parking meter equipment for Parkeon, the largest parking meter manufacturer in the world, with a footprint in some 3,500 cities globally.
“It is my strong view that there is a group of individuals who wish to snatch this project and all of its benefits from the council and citizens for their own private enterprise and personal gains; this council will not countenance that; it will not happen.”
She said that the council had consultations with critical stakeholders including the Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, government and govemmental agencies and city councillors, past and present.
Chase-Green claimed that the previous councillors had been ready to sign off on the proposal, but the then Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Clinton Collymore, asked for the city to stay since there was a bigger plan for parking in the country.
“Please let us bear in mind that, this is direct foreign investment to the city; the city is not required to pay one cent. So far, the consortium, with which we have a contract, has already sent their engineers and technical team to do various assessments. As we speak, parking meters are being processed for shipping to Georgetown to allow the project to begin on schedule.”
The officials yesterday said that under the system, the city would be able to view when a car is parked, whether the ticket has been paid and when the vehicle would have moved. There will be communications with monitors on the road and daily online information about what the parking meters are raking in.
Eventually, smart phones will be used to determine where the available parking spaces are in the city.
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