Parking Meter project on hold until City Council considers govt’s review

City Mayor, Patricia Chase Green said the parking meter project would no longer begin on September 1 to make way for the Council to consider the proposed way forward by Central Government.

Councillors at Monday’s (August 8, 2016) statutory meeting were given packages containing the review and recommendations by the Attorney General, Basil Williams and the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Stressing that the contract between the Mayor and City Council and National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions (NPS/SCS) is legal, she said Town Clerk, Royston King has been asked to arrange a special Council Meeting to review the report and “look at the way forward for the parking meters.”

“As it is, there will be no launching from the 1st of September as was agreed upon because we have to do some work on the recommendations made by the Ministry of Finance,” she told Demerara Waves Online News.

The Mayor said the talks would consider a recommendation for a reduction of the rate from GYD$500 to GYD$200 per hour and the percentage of gross earnings that the City would be entitled to.

Managing Director of Smart City Solutions (SCS), Kamau Cush confirmed that the rate would be GYD$50 every 15 minutes – that’s GYD$200 per hour- targeting mainly drivers who enter Georgetown to transact businesses. “We are not targeting the driver who wants to park for hours,” he said, adding that the parking meters would reduce congestion, pollution and respiratory ailments.

He declined to comment on government’s view that the parking meter contract was burdensome and highly favours the investor because Minister of State, Joseph Harmon did not elaborate.

Cush shied away from answering directly whether he would be willing to renegotiate the contract. “We are prepared to look at whatever concerns the City may have and have a conversation but it’s a contract, it’s a legal contract it was signed off, it’s a legally binding contract. There is nothing illegal about it,” he said.

Responding to claims that his company would be getting 80 percent and the City Council 20 percent of gross revenues, he said Central Government would be getting 16 percent- a total of 36 percent to local and central governments combined.  He reiterated that he and his partners were investing private rather than public money.

Cush said NPS/ SCS would not be earning a profit on its US$10 million investment until another eight or nine years. “In terms of it being onerous and unfavourable, we think that it’s more unfavourable to us but because I am a Guyanese patriot and a Guyanese nationalist I am committed to bringing investors here to this country regardless of the risk,” he said.

He said 117 persons would be employed with a gross minimum salary of GYD$100,000 per month. In addition, 60 traffic wardens assigned to police the parking meters would be paid an additional sum to increase their pay to GYD$100,000.

The parking contract is for 49 years.