As concerns continue to mount over an impending contract between the Georgetown Mayor and City Council and two companies for the installation of Parking Meters in Georgetown; Mayor Patricia Chase-Greene may have additional questions to answer.
Greene , Town Clerk Royston King and Councillors Oscar Clarke and Junior Garette are currently in Mexico on a trip related to the installation of the parking meters.
The companies are National Parking Systems (NPS) / Smart City Solutions about which Duncan has previously said barely exist and have little or no experience elsewhere with the installation and operation of parking meters.
However, at a statutory meeting on Monday, Acting Mayor Sherod Duncan was bombarded with several questions from sitting councilors about the project for which, he was unable to provide definite answers.
At the meeting, the councilors noted their respective concerns over the agreement with the company.
According to Duncan, the Councilors were only informed of the Mayor and Town Clerks’s departure when they turned up for the meeting on Monday afternoon.
“I’m concerned that I didn’t know the nature of the visit until the Deputy Town Clerk informed the house today. I’m concerned that I didn’t know two other Councilors are also on the trip until, again, the Deputy Town Clerk informed the house today. Makes me wonder about the quality of the operation we are running at the M&CC,” Duncan told Demerara Waves on Monday evening.
He said that from what the Councilors were told, he interpreted that to mean they’ve gone to see how the parking meters work there.
On the issue of the concerns ventilated by the Councilors, he pointed out that it could have been a better deal for the City if more companies were allowed to bid and that would have been better the City Administration looks to develop Georgetown.
The Deputy Mayor indicated that across the board, the clear consensus was that “the quality of the contract is unacceptable.”
“I made it clear that I was not going to make any decisions in the substantive Mayor’s absence given the nature of this issue but that questions Councillors have should be put to the Mayor and team when she returns. She has a right to be heard, a natural Justice principle that I embrace,” he stated.
City Councillor, Salima Bacchus-Hinds, who represents Team Benschop, supports the need for the Georgetown Municipality to generate more funds but she refuses to support the current parking meter project because of the arbitrary approach.
“It gravely worries me that there has been no stakeholder engagement, no impact assessment of introducing the meters. There has been no transparency, in awarding National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions, a 49 year contract that sees the city receiving only 20% of revenues (which reflects an estimated GY$100 million for the City). I am perplexed as to why such a significant contract is not a matter of public record,” she states in a letter and Facebook post.
While Bacchus-Hinds says she is not talking on behalf other councillors, she says most of the City’s lawmakers were “in the dark about the contents of this supposedly top-secret document. It is my hope that all will be revealed post-haste.”
Describing the proposed GYD$600 an hour parking fee as “abhorrent,” the Team Benschop representative said she has not heard of any special provisions for pensioners, the differently-abled, or residents living within the commercial zones. “We have been told, rather eloquently, that we do not have to worry about low income residents, since these persons “do not own cars” and tend to use public transportation. We have been told to trust in a company with years of experience in parking systems, but yet, does not even have an online presence, except for a few weeks ago, when an article regarding the parking meters contract was published locally,” she said.
It costs just about the equivalent of GYD$200 per hour to park in New York.
(Story by Jomo Brusheildon Paul)