Although there is a current pre-occupation with the contract signed between the Georgetown Mayor and City Council and Smart City Solutions, the said Municipality also signed an earlier agreement with Astrolobe
This company had protested against the Council signing a similar contract with SCS so much so that the company has filed an action in the High Court. As a result, a debate on the parking meters has been cancelled on a number of occasions in the National Assembly.
The M&CC signed this contract on October 1, 2007. Representing the company was its Chief Executive Officer, Saratu Phillips, and signing on behalf of the M&CC was then Town Clerk, Beulah Williams.
The contract term was for 25 years and was estimated to cost the company in the region of US$350,000 to US$400,000, a sum considerably smaller than US$10M estimated by SCS for their project. A source close to the M&CC at the time had told Kaieteur News that the present council went ahead and signed the agreement with SCS since it had no knowledge of the previous contract.
The existence of the 2007 contract was acknowledged by the current Town Clerk Royston King in a letter to the company dated October 6, 2015.
Since this acknowledgement was made, it begs the question why the Town Clerk would have gone ahead and signed the contract with SCS on May 13, 2016 along with Mayor Patricia Chase-Green.
Both contracts give each company exclusive rights to conduct paid public parking within Georgetown and includes the installation of parking meters. Under the 2007 contract, Astrolobe’s obligations were to buy, import and install the meters necessary for the project, provide maintenance and service support for such meters, provide the mechanism to safely collect revenue, allow for a quarterly financial audit to verify the council is paid their 20 per cent share and provide its own liability.
The City,in the agreement, had given the company permission to conduct the paid public parking on Avenue of the Republic, Brickdam, South Road, North Road, Main, Church, Robb, Regent, America, Camp, Middle, Croal, Water, Thomas and Longden Streets. The contract goes on to state, “The City Council gives Astrolobe Technology the rights to install any paid parking system or meters on any street that comes under its jurisdiction.”
Further, the contract could not have been deemed breached according to Phillips. Under the Termination clauses of the contract, the City may pull out of the agreement, “If the company fails to satisfy certain conditions. If the company becomes bankrupt or insolvent; if the company fails to follow any instructions that may be given by the Council in keeping with the agreement; if the company fails to follow the terms of the agreement and if the company fails to pay the Council any payment under this agreement.”
Despite all of this, the M&CC went ahead and signed the agreement with SCS giving the company a monopoly over paid public parking according to the Ministry of Finance review. Under Section 4.3 titled “Other Parking Systems and Facilities”, it was agreed that during the length of the contract the City will not operate and will neither permit the operation of paid public parking facilities nor the operation of any metered parking systems other than that of SCS except with the written permission of the company.
It has been recommended by the Ministry that a feasibility study should be provided that gives the national government a clear picture of demand analysis, financial analysis, socio-economic cost benefit analysis, risk analysis, technological alternatives, production plan, human resources, location plan and implementation.
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