Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 March 2017, 20:44 by Denis Chabrol
Acting Mayor of Georgetown, Sherod Duncan Wednesday night said City Hall was awaiting formal notification from Local Government Minister, Ronald Bulkan about government’s desire to have the parking meter contract suspended for three months.
Duncan said Bulkan on Wednesday merely communicated Cabinet’s decision by telephone to Town Clerk, Royston King but both himself (Duncan) and King agreed that City Hall needs the decision to be communicated in official correspondence.
Duncan now expects the minister to dispatch that correspondence to City Hall on Thursday.
Bulkan did not immediately take calls or respond to a message on the subject.
Cabinet on Tuesday agreed to ask City Hall to suspend the contract for three months to allow for a thorough examination of the deal in keeping with reviews by the Finance Ministry and the Attorney General’s Chambers. Those reviews had also expressed grave concerns about several aspects of the contract. A senior government official has also told Demerara Waves Online News that if the contract is fixed at the end of the stipulated period it should be scrapped.
The Alliance For Change (AFC)-aligned Deputy Mayor is confident that when Cabinet’s recommendation is put before a statutory or emergency Council meeting it would be approved because 22 of the 30 councillors are from A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). “I don’t see councillors, the majority of whom are APNU councillors, are going to go against Central government on this matter so for me, right now, it’s just a matter of formality,” he said.
The next statutory meeting of the City’s decision-making body is scheduled for May 27, 2017, but an emergency statutory meeting is possible, Duncan said.
Meanwhile, the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) earlier Wednesday vowed to push for a revocation rather than a suspension of the 80-20 deal in favour of SCS. City Hall barely raked in just over GYD$250,000 from the parking meters’ first month of operations.
SCS in a statement also said Thursday that metered parking was still in effect and the company has received no communication from City Hall, its contracted partner.
The legality of the contract has been challenged in the High Court on several grounds.
City Hall has said the cash-strapped municipality badly needs parking meter revenues to rehabilitate and maintain the drainage network, collect solid waste and maintain roads.
However critics of the M&CC-SCS deal and the parking meter bylaws say the whole affair lacks transparency because there was no public tender, no feasibility study, the fees are burdensome on the working class, business activity in the city has shrunk to an all-time low and the laws concerning seizure and sale of vehicles are illegal.
Concerns have been also raised about the virtual entitlement by SCS to a further 20-year renewal of the contract that is regarded as largely monopolistic. The contract also allows SCS to rent and eventually acquire lands uninhibited for garaged parking.
The AFC, Private Sector Commission , Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc and the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce have all slammed the contract as a bad deal.