Last Updated on Wednesday, 8 February 2017, 20:16 by Denis Chabrol
Parking meter fees are to be reduced in the coming days, but authorities are not about to give into calls for the contract between Smart City Solutions (SCS) and the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to be scrapped.
Local Government Minister, Ronald Bulkan told Demerara Waves Online News that City Hall would be announcing the new rates in another three to four days. “I think it would be fair for me to say ‘yes’. Those details you will have to get from the municipality. In some cases, it will be quite considerable,” he said.
Bulkan said prior to Wednesday evening’s meeting, talks had already begun with SCS about reducing the parking meter rates. Since the commencement of paid parking in late January, most of the parking areas have been boycotted.
City Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green said the municipality’s officials would be meeting with a broad cross section of stakeholders within 72 hours to address their concerns, but she was non-committal about a rate reduction. “When they come and they list their concerns one-by-one, we will take it one-by-one,” she said. “We are open to discussion on all issues including reduction (of the rates),” she said.
The decision to lower the rates emerged out of a meeting between President David Granger and the City Mayor, the Local Government Minister and the Attorney General Basil Williams.
The current rates plus 14 percent VAT are GYD$50 per 15 minutes of parking; garaged parking of up t0 GYD$175 per 15 minutes; parking violations GYD$6,000 ; booting fee of GYD$8,000 ; towing fee of GYD$12,000 and storage fee of GYD$7,000 per 24 hours.
The Mayor said Wednesday evening’s three-hour long meeting followed discussions by Cabinet on Tuesday. “The major outcome was that Cabinet would have discussed the matter yesterday and they have expressed concerns. We just had a very fruitful meeting and we’ll go back and have some wider consultations with citizens,” she told reporters outside State House.
Chase-Green said President Granger and his team raised concerns about “the outcry of the people and that we should go back and see what’s happening.”
In the face of legal action and calls by the loosely-knit Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM), Mayor Chase-Green said the parking meter project would not be suspended and the Local Government Minister was even more forthright when he ruled out the scrapping of the contract. “I don’t think so …that’s not the desire. There are a lot of benefits that can flow from this initiative that will manifest themselves as time goes on but the rates are considered to be burdensome and that is what we addressed,” Bulkan said.
MAPM said the parking meter project was born out of a system that lacked transparency because there was no public tender and no feasibility or impact study.
The Mayor and City Council has a 20 percent stake and SCS the remaining 80 percent.