Govt calls in police to prevent City Hall from clamping vehicles ; new suspension order is “done deal”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 21:43 by Denis Chabrol

The Ministry of the Presidency

Government has formally suspended the bylaws governing the parking meter project and has called in national police to prevent the Georgetown City Council and operatives of Smart City Solutions (SCS) from booting/clamping vehicles

“The Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan was also instructed to advise the Commissioner of Police to ensure that as of Wednesday, March 22, 2017 citizens and their vehicles would receive the protection of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to prevent them and/or their vehicles from being unduly hindered or restrained in any way, whatsoever, by the GCC and/or its agents,”  government said in a statement issued after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

“As a consequence, the Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan was directed to formally suspend the operation of the By-laws governing the Parking Meter project with immediate effect,” the Ministry of the Presidency also said.

A statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency says Cabinet was “disappointed with the lack of action taken” by the Georgetown City Council.  The majority of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) councillors on Monday voted to allow the 30-member council time to study a legal opinion that states that Bulkan’s previous order was illegal and will have huge financial consequences if the parking meter system is suspended.

Cabinet last week had agreed to ask City Hall to suspend the contract for three months to allow for the review of the agreement in light of concerns by the public about that accord between the Mayor and City Council and SCS.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Communities  issued a statement late Tuesday night saying the new order  to suspend the parking meter project is a “done deal.”

Noting that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council had failed to act on the previous Order following legal opinion, the Minister said, “It appears that there was some ambiguity and the legal opinion that was proffered was that if the Council proceeded on the basis of that Order then it would be a decision of the Council… The Council did not seek to proceed on the basis of executing what it understood clearly as a Cabinet decision to withdraw this paid parking project. Instead it sought a way to frustrate the decision of the Cabinet and this is why I have expressed public dissatisfaction with the action of the Council,” he was quoted as saying in a government statement.

Minister Bulkan added that the new Order is unambiguous and leaves no room for discretion on the part of the City with regard to conformity. “This is a done deal and on the basis of this new Order, the Council would be clearly advised to inform the company [Smart City Solutions] that paid parking would be suspended. The company would be invited to enter into negotiations and at that stage it would be up to the company to determine what its response to this new action of the Government would be,” he said.