Parking meters are back

first_img…MAPM vows more protestsBy Lakhram BhagiratSmart City Solutions (SCS) and the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of the City of Georgetown have reached a new agreement under the controversial Parking Meter Project, which will now see persons paying $150 per hour and $800 for eight hours of parking in the city.This new structure was presented at a Special Statutory Meeting called to discuss the recommendations of the Parking Meter Renegotiation Committee, on Wednesday.Some of the Councillors at the Special Statutory Meeting on Wednesday“Pay for time instead of space was agreed to by both parties, thus allowing persons to move from location to location until the time paid for is exhausted. This will allow for the transferability of time from meter to meter,” Councillor Akeem Peter proudly boasted.Meanwhile, residents of the city would be issued with a restricted residential pass for free parking from 17:00h-19:00h Monday to Friday while parking will be free on Saturdays.The M&CC had entered into a contract with SCS Inc on May 13, 2016, for parking meters to be implemented in Georgetown, but following heavy objection and intense protest from citizens, Central Government suspended the by-laws of the project. The renegotiated contract with SCS and the restructured fees come in light of a recent High Court ruling quashing the by-laws of the controversial project. The city, through its lawyers, has filed an appeal to the ruling.The renegotiation committee’s report noted that SCS has agreed that the condition for enforcement of paid parking in the city be in conjunction with the parking meter by-laws, despite those by-laws being quashed.Chairman of the renegotiating committee, Councillor Akeem Peter said that there were 15 consultation sessions, with 13 of them being the Committee just meeting to discuss a way forward before meeting with the representatives from SCS.He noted that SCS was cooperative during the renegotiation phase and that while some of the terms of the original contract remain unchanged, both parties agreed to modify as many critical terms as possible to satisfy the needs of the general public.Modified contractUnder the modified contract, both parties have agreed to have an oversight committee set up to monitor, review and manage the operations of the project. The committee is expected to have three representatives from City Hall, three from SCS and one third-party, with the terms of reference for the committee expected to be agreed upon at a later date.During his lengthy synopsis of the renegotiation process, Peter noted it was agreed that the project shall be reviewed every six months for the first three years, both the operational and financial aspects of the project. Additionally, there would be no immediate booting for the first three months following the recommencement of the project, but after the grace period, failure to pay parking fees for up to three violations would result in booking or towing. Peter also said under the new arrangement SCS may recommend that City Hall put a vehicle up for auction after 60 days of it being unclaimed.Peter also proudly boasted that schools and religious organisations would now be required to write SCS seeking consideration to be exempted from paid parking.The committee’s report noted that during the renegotiations, the subject of the shared profit and he contract was discussed and it was agreed to have it remain the same – 20/80 M&CC-SCS for a period of 20 years. It was also disclosed that in the event of arbitration the proceedings would be held in Miami despite the jurisdiction being Guyana.Not enough timeThe final report of the committee was presented to Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase Green on Monday and sent to Councillors around 18:00h on Tuesday. Several of the Councillors complained of not enough time being allotted for them to peruse the 90 plus pages of the document.Councillor Alfred Mentore said that he would have preferred more time to decipher the minutes of the meetings the committee had with SCS so that he could seek clarifications and he would have also wanted to have his constituents’ input in his final decision.“I’m not saying I’m not in support of parking meters. I am in support of parking meters and how we go about dealing with parking meters, but the mad rush to push it through is what I’m concerned about,” Mentore noted.Councillors Khame Sharma, Bishram Kuppen and Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikaran also reiterated that position.ScrappedThe Deputy Mayor during his charged presentation on the recommendations of the report reiterated that the contract should be scrapped, and the process restarted since it was a project that was shrouded in secrecy. He added that while he was not against metered parking, he was against the process that led to SCS being the contractor since the initial contract lacked transparency.“The matter is still in front of the court and it is sub judice…I feel that this contract should not have been renegotiated…we need help and parking meters would offer relief coupled with proper traffic management, but I don’t believe Smart City is the solution…you could put lipstick on a pig and at the end of the day, it’s still a pig,” Jaikaran noted.More protestsFollowing the implementation of the parking meters, a civil society group – Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) was formed and played an instrumental role in the suspension of the by-laws of the controversial project.A member of that group, Don Singh, was at the Special Statutory Meeting and following the recommendations, he noted that the MAPM was willing to take to the streets again to ensure that the project was scrapped.He said that they would continue to monitor the project closely and would take the necessary action.last_img

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