Apr 24, 2017 News
April 21, 2017 marked one month since the Georgetown Parking Meter project by-laws were formally suspended and to date, no consultation has been held by the Georgetown Mayor and City Council with citizens of Georgetown on the matter.
The suspension of the by-laws was instituted by an order handed down by the Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan. The order came into effect on March 21, 2017 and will expire on June 21, 2017.
According to the order, the three month period is to allow the M&CC to conduct consultations with citizens of Georgetown, particularly members of the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) who have been extremely vocal on the issue.
At the time the suspension was being enforced, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green was out of the jurisdiction. However, since returning, the only consultations which have been held relate to addressing the garbage situation in Georgetown.
A member of MAPM, Dr. Reyaud Rahaman, told Kaieteur News yesterday that no contact has been made with the group concerning any plan to facilitate consultations. This was also confirmed when another member, Christopher Chapwanya was contacted.
Some members of the group have attended the consultations regarding the garbage situation since they own businesses in the City.
On March 24, 2017, this newspaper had reported that Minister Bulkan was scheduled to meet with the Town Clerk of the Municipality, Royston King to discuss the way forward for consultations. This information was relayed to the media during a post Cabinet press briefing by Minister of State Joseph Harmon at the Ministry of the Presidency.
According to Harmon, Bulkan’s formal suspension came as a result of Cabinet noting the inactivity of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown to heed its initial advice to suspend the project on its own.
The Minister of State said that during the suspension, government will be giving full support to the process of negotiating and consultation which will result in a favourable outcome. He added, “That is to say that the council, the Smart City Solutions, the stakeholders and the citizens; that they all ad idem (agreed) on the issues relating to the parking meter project and the contract itself.”
He said that government has not taken a position as to what will happen after the three months. However, Harmon said that his administration believes that good sense will prevail and that there will be a favourable outcome.
The government’s call for consultation came after many weeks of deliberations in Cabinet. The state’s intervention was delayed pending the provision of certain information concerning the contract. Following its implementation on January 30, 2017, the project has been rejected by a significant number of City residents, motorists and businesses.
This was reflected in letters to the press, statements from organisations representing the private sector and public protests by the MAPM and the Guyana Teachers’ Union.
The GTU had protested against the installation of meters in front of some public schools. This issue was later addressed.
The National Commission on Disability had also criticised the implementation of the project, since some meters were placed on pavements in Georgetown creating a hindrance to movement by persons with disabilities. It is believed that if there was prior consultation these issues among others would have never occurred.
Other criticisms levelled against the project relate to the contract and the company’s enforcement activities. The initial cost to park and the erroneous provisions within the contract have caused the MAPM to want a full revocation of the project instead of renegotiation which would only alter the present contract.
According to the group, since procurement laws were ignored in the signing of the contract, it should not be enforced whatsoever. As a result, the group believes the contract should be squashed, citizens consulted and then if parking meters is seen as the best option to address traffic congestion, the project should be formally tendered using the public bidding process.
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