The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has lamented the problems it faces trying to ease the traffic congestion around its Camp Street HQ and said the situation has been compounded by the unwillingness of members of the public to pay a fee and employees disregarding a lot set aside for them and parking on the streets and parapets.
The GRA statement yesterday was prompted by a report in the February 18th edition of Stabroek News which pointed out that the large car park constructed on the embankment along Lamaha Street had around three or four cars maximum over six days when it was constructed for around 400 cars. With several guards located at the site, critics say the parking lot would be a monumental waste of money and one about which the GRA had been criticised about.
The GRA said even though it has made its former staff parking lot on Camp Street, adjacent to St Margaret’s, available for the tax-paying public this has been challenging as persons are reluctant to pay a fee charged for utilising this facility.
The agency said it is with the interest of the tax-paying public that it displaced its staff from the parking lot adjacent to St Margaret’s Primary School to create convenient parking for the public while they conduct business at its offices across the road. However, taxpayers are disinclined to pay for the parking but the agency said it does not own this lot and is not associated with any fees charged for its use.
In the statement, the GRA said it remains optimistic that it has made the best decision at this time to counter the “intolerable congestion” near its Camp Street headquarters for both taxpayers and staff.
Noting the report in this newspaper spotlighting the near empty parking lot along the Lamaha Street embankment, the GRA said that it is fully aware of the ongoing criticism of Chinese company Baishanlin’s decision to assist with the car park which may be perceived as inappropriate since the developers themselves are taxpayers.
“However, there were no criticisms about other taxpayers/entities that have assisted the GRA with parking alternatives for its staff; namely the owner of the lot at Quamina & Camp and the owner of the Lot opposite GRA,” the agency said.
The agency noted that since its move to Camp Street three years ago there has been a notable increase in the number of commercial buildings going up within a two-block radius. This too is contributing to the current congestion; however, as the largest employer and customer-service oriented business in the area the agency continues to address the issue of parking with the hope of providing feasible alternatives. Regrettably, the GRA said it continues to bear the brunt of the criticism as it related to parking and congestion in the area despite all its efforts to resolve the issue.
“Admittedly, like with every new venture or undertaking there will be teething problems. However, the Authority remains optimistic that it has made the best decision at this time. The GRA holds the firm belief that media reports should focus attention on the challenging parking situation faced by GRA and taxpayers in its vicinity rather than continuous sensationalism about the parking issues and the private developer which has assisted the Agency with parking alternatives for staff”, the GRA said.
Adverting to the fact that staff were not parking on the assigned lot along Lamaha Street, the GRA said:
“The new parking lot is a mere three blocks away from the GRA Headquar-ters. The distance is however a far cry from other more developed countries’ Parking Lots for large companies where car parks are situated distances away, leaving persons with little choice but to walk.
“The GRA is disappointed that the Press continues to criticize the assis-tance provided and the moves being made to alleviate the parking situation, in the midst of an ongoing parking disaster which results in staff only making matters worse by using up all spaces near the avenues and streets close to GRA”.
From the inception, critics had said it was a foolish idea to have parking located nearly three blocks away from the GRA’s headquarters. They have noted that the plan to establish the GRA on Camp Street was done without any apparent planning for parking.