Movement Against Parking Meters wants contract revoked; legal action looms
By Stacy Carmichael-James
The Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) is in the process of legal recourse with regard to the controversial Parking Meter Project which is being ‘forced’ upon the citizenry by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and Smart City Solution (SCS).
Supporters of the Movement held a press conference today at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce’s (GCCI) office in Waterloo Street, Georgetown.
Attorney, Nadia Sagar while not disclosing fully what this legal action would entail, disclosed that MAPM is considering approaching the Commission of Information for access to the contract between M&CC and SCS, an avenue many have not explored.
Asked if the Movement would consider supporting the project if the rates are lowered, the Group responded in the negative noting that the entire project is “shady”. The lack of transparency of the process, the lack of adherence to the Public Procurement Process and the lack of consultation with the people of Guyana are some of the grounds cited by MAPM for its lack of support.
It calls for a Feasibility Study, Impact Study, evidence of the tendering process and all reports, minutes etc from Stakeholders’ meetings held prior to the implementation of the project and in the absence of these, MAPM is requesting that the M&CC and the Government of Guyana revoke the current contract.
The MAPM has also noted the discourteous, often belligerent manner in which the SCS operatives go about enforcing the system. The Movement strongly objects the fact that SCS continues to penalize citizens even though the by-laws that enable them to legally do so have not been gazette.
It also strongly objects to the VAT being applied to penalties incurred through SCS’s parking rules.
One of the members who has been at the front of the protest action, Christopher Chapwanya made it clear that MAPM is not affiliated with any political party rather, it is citizens’ movement which represents thousands of Guyanese across the country of all religious and ethnic backgrounds and social class.
Chapwanya when asked about the Alliance For Change’s recent call for the project suspension, maintained that the group is not politically aligned and welcomes support from any group that is against the Parking Meter Project deeming the contract a “vile document.”
He said the citizens have united for one cause and that is they will not be “bullied” into accepting the Parking Meter System.
Another member, Andrew Mcbean noted that the group is not opposed to the meter system but wants it done in a sustainable and fair manner with due consideration to its effects. McBean reminded that it is everyone’s problem because it affects us all whether directly or indirectly. The comparative analysis with the first world, he noted is unfair, since those countries have affordable transportation options.
Commenting on the commercial impact member of the Private Sector Komal Ramnauth said there have been several complaints from businesses that there has been a tremendous drop in sales, noting that these companies pay a lot of taxes. He questioned how can businesses sustain themselves. Ramnauth pointed to the fact that if these businesses are losing sales then eventually employment for many persons would be lost.
He too raised concerns with the way the contract was initiated with an alleged illegal company that would be reaping most of the profits from the deal. The PSC member said even the Traffic Chief has raised numerous issues that would arise from the project. These were highlighted, he noted, during a meeting between the PSC and the Traffic Chief on November 29 2016.
The fact that the Ministry of Finance’s Report highlighted various irregularities with the contract was brought to the attention of the media. MAPM finds it incredulous that this report made it past cabinet, even though many of the procurement laws were not followed and the necessary studies not conducted to determine its effects.
The Movement is hopeful that the interest of the people will trump those of Smart City Solutions and the Mayor and City Council calling for the intervention of the Government before the situation spirals further out of control.