About 50 persons under the banner of the loosely-knit Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) on Thursday-City Hall’s internal elections day-ratcheted up calls for Town Clerk, Royston King and City Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green to be removed from office.
They issued the call outside the dilapidated City Hall one hour before Chase-Green was re-elected as Chief Citizen and the youthful Akeem Peter her deputy at internal polls among councillors.
This effectively means that the Alliance For Change (AFC) has been kicked out of the leadership of the Council by the People’s National Congress Reform-dominated A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) as both Chase-Green and Peter are from APNU.
Coming days after then Deputy Mayor, Lionel Jaikarran and Councillor Sherod Duncan- both AFC members- failed to have a no-confidence motion against the Town Clerk debated, the MAPM associates who were drawn from different backgrounds singled out different concerns for joining the picket line.
Prominent MAPMite, Don Singh believed that Peter is being rewarded for his role as chairman of the parking meter negotiating committee that had interfaced with Smart City Solutions. “Akeem Peter is being rewarded for his work as Chairman of the re-negotiation committee of the parking meter. Lionel Jaikarran is being sanctioned for his support of Sherod Duncan in the no-confidence motion against the Town Clerk. It’s clear as day,” he said, adding that that decision was made at the PNCR headquarters Wednesday afternoon.
In a brief comment to Demerara Waves Online News, he said he was not bothered about losing the post because “I have tried my best”. “Regardless of the outcome, I did my best and if I walk, I walk with my head held high,” he said.
Mr. Raffiq of RAF’s Variety Store on King Street said he was concerned that City Hall was demanding GY$5,000 per
month for the collection of garbage. His commercial waste is still being collected although he refuses to pay the fee. He said if he pays, City Hall would be creaming off more than GY$500,000 annually over the GY$250,000 in rates and taxes that are already being paid. “I am here mainly to protest against the garbage collection fee. The City Hall is sending people around to collect garbage collection fees and I don’t know anything about that. We are paying our rates and taxes and garbage collection is supposed to be included in that and when they come and you don’t pay them, they are more annoyed than you,” he said.
Jonathan Yearwood highlighted that his concern was financial transparency, saying that multi-million dollar contracts have been awarded although there is limit after which they must go to public tender. For a cash-strapped City administration that punishes to pay salaries, he queried what was the reason for more than GY$50 million being allocated to the Town Clerk’s office and GY$18 million for firearms. “This is absolutely ridiculous. We have absolutely little or no faith whatsoever in the Town Clerk and the way he is functioning in the City. We also have no fate in the Mayor… This is party politics. This is absolute nonsense. We need to have the City put before the party,” Yearwood told reporters.
Asked why he believed the protest would result in the removal of King and Chase-Green, also known as ‘Pat and Roy’, Yearwood suggested there was uncertainty that that action would work, but much depended on more “aggression”. “We must stop being sheep and start being a little bit more wolfish so that we can get things changed,” he added.
Singh lambasted City Hall for passing a budget with 10 Councillors agreeing that 20 feet container taxes would be increased from GY$5,000 to GY$8,000 and for the 40 feet container from GY$5,000 to GY$10,000 with a projected annual income of GY$360 million. “We have gross, gross, gross mismanagement in the City and it’s time to spot and if we don’t stand up and do our civic duty, then what are we doing? Are we citizens of Georgetown or are we sheep just like the rest of the country,” said Singh. He said it was time to let the “bigger powers that be” see people on the streets instead of at keyboards on Social Media.
Also, joining the picket-line was, Pearl Younge the aunt of Marlon Fredericks, who was shot dead by a City Constable earlier this year outside the Bourda City Police Outpost. Calling for justice, she expressed concern at the fact that City Hall paid GY$800,000 bail for the pre-trial release of Corporal Bascombe. “I am angry. It’s not right. How could you think like that.? It is as if somebody had committed no crime..Somebody has committed a crime-murder- and the next day, you use taxpayers’ money to bail him out, not a day spent in prison. That’s not right. I am very disturbed and angry,” she said.
MAPM vowed to continue the protest.
Local Government Elections are scheduled to be held during the last quarter of 2018.