City nixes Astrolobe for parking meters project

-says lacks human, technological capacity

Having sent conflicting signals, City Hall last night announced that Astrolobe Technologies will not be considered for the parking meters project as it “lacks both the human and technological competencies to install and manage parking meters in the city of Georgetown.”

The decision came after the city had previously announced that the capital would be divided into two and Astrolobe would install parking meters in one part and Smart City Solutions Inc in the other section.

That statement appeared not to have any basis as the city last night said that “not only will Astrolobe prove to be a risk to the City’s economic and financial stability, but because it appears that Astrolobe will, at best, be experimenting with public parking, the safety of citizens could be compromised.”

The statement said that the observations were made by council’s representatives, following a meeting between senior officials of the George-town Mayor and City Council and representatives of Astrolobe on Wednesday.

The meeting was convened to provide Astrolobe, an opportunity to make a presentation of its proposal for the installation and management of parking facilities, in the capital City of George-town.

However, the statement said that no information on Astrolobe was found in the official records of the City Council.

In attendance at the meeting were Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Greene, Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan, Town Clerk Royston King, Chairman of the Finance Committee Oscar Clarke and senior Councillor Junior Garrett, among others, for the Mayor and City Council, and Saratu Phillips and his representatives from Astrolobe.

“Based on the presentation, and responses to questions asked, members of the Council concluded that Astrolobe has no experience in the installation and operation of paid public parking in any city or town, and that its start-up capital for such a substantial project in Georgetown is grossly inadequate.  Moreover, the competencies demonstrated by Astrolobe are outside the mainstream norms and practices of paid public parking”, the statement said.

It added that the Council is fully satisfied that Smart City Solutions Inc, the company contracted to install and operate the parking meters, has the requisite human and technological capacity to implement the project to facilitate the objectives of the municipality.

In interviews with Stabroek News, Ifa Kamau Cush of Smart City Solutions had been insistent that only his company would be considered by the city for the parking meters project and not Astrolobe.

In its statement last night, the Council said it had noted that since signing the contract in November of 2015, Smart City Solutions Inc has ”invested tens of millions of dollars in preparatory works, including bringing engineers from its headquarters to determine traffic volume and occupancy”.

Astrolobe's Suratu Phillips who made the presentation to City Hall.
Astrolobe’s Suratu Phillips who made the presentation to City Hall.

It disclosed that the entire cost for the installation and operation of the parking meters will be borne by Smart City Solutions Inc.

It is also projected that revenue from the solar-powered parking meters, which is in keeping with the  green city concept, could tip the two hundred million dollars mark in earnings per year, for the Georgetown Mayor and City Council, in addition to the creation of over 100 new jobs, and less parking nightmares for drivers.

The Council says it is aware that, Smart City Solutions Inc is the largest operator of municipal on-street metered parking in Latin America, the Caribbean and South America. It added that the Company has supplied Panama with parking meters, equipment and accessories for over two decades, while also pioneering the service in Mexico City, where it has been in operation for over five years, managing some 20,000 parking spaces.



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