City councillors yesterday expressed dismay at not being privy to the details of the contract signed between City Hall and National Parking Systems for parking meters to be installed around the city.
They also seemed shocked when it was disclosed during the statutory meeting that Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, Town Clerk Royston King, and APNU councillors Oscar Clarke and Junior Garrett were in Mexico for a first-hand look at the operation of a parking meter system.
Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Harry, who was performing the duties of Town Clerk, said she was unaware of the details of the contract.
Likewise, Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan, who was performing the duties of the mayor, was also unable to provide councillors with any information on the contract.
Meanwhile, many of the councillors only learnt of the quartet’s trip to Mexico at yesterday’s meeting.
Councillors Salima Bacchus-Hinds, Phillip Smith, Welton Clarke, Akeem Peter, Roopnarine Persaud and Alfred Mentore registered their disappointment at not being able to have answers to the questions they have about the venture.
Mentore had sought clarity on the council’s position with the 2007 contract signed between City Council and Astrolobe Technologies. At the last statutory meeting in May, Oscar Clarke had told the councillors that the city’s attorney would handle the matter. Mentore questioned whether the matter had been handled, wondering why Astrolobe Technologies had been invited to make a presentation if the council’s attorney was addressing the issue.
Mentore said that as vice-chairman of the Finance Committee he was not aware of when the contract was signed and which councillors were present at the signing.
Mentore said he believed there should have been a broad-based consultation with the citizens, ministries, the private sector and the police traffic department to arrive at common ground in order to make an informed decision. He added that he was not elected to “go with the flow” and unless he is satisfied he would be unlikely to support the parking meter.
Bacchus-Hinds said the issue of the parking meters is a serious one with questions that need to be answered.
She questioned how she can be able to view the contract, which should be a public record.
Peter said that he had asked to see the document a week ago and thought it would have been available at the statutory meeting yesterday. The deputy town clerk said all agreements are signed by the town clerk and kept inside his office.
Welton Clarke said the parking meter issue seems to a “rubber ball bouncing on and off the wall.” He said there is much uncertainty that lingers on the minds of councillors.
“This is an important issue…,” he said and later questioned whether a few was making decisions for all and if there was “a special group” that can go to Mexico and learn about the system.
He opined that “fresh blood” should have gone on the delegation to learn how international trips work.
He added that he is not happy with how the matter was handled and if they do not look out “reality would bite hard.”
Persaud added that the matter is masked with confusion and limited answers. He said that based on his calculations a citizen would expend approximately $40,000 which is a basic salary of many citizens. He said that because of this situation he could not be party to the installation of parking meters. He said he was voted to help people and the issue of the parking meters needed to go back to the drawing board and to have broader consultations with stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Smith questioned who was standing the expense for the Mexico trip, since the council did not approve of those attending. He also stated that the new council should learn to be responsible in its actions.
Last month, Mayor Chase-Green had announced at the city council’s statutory meeting that a contract was inked with NPS to install parking meters across the city. Subsequently, City Hall announced that the capital would be divided into two and Smart City Solutions Inc would install parking meters in one section and Astrolobe Technology in the other. However, after that announcement and a presentation by Astrolobe, the city backtracked and nixed Astrolobe from the project.
On Saturday, Duncan had used social media to voice his disapproval of the deal. In the post, he questioned the experience of Smart City Solutions as no information could be found on the internet.