While the Mayor and City Council has made no apparent effort to implement central government’s recommendations in relation to the contentious parking meter contract, its partner, Smart City Solutions (SCS) has begun recruiting staff.
Yesterday, in excess of 100 persons showed up at the National Library to attend the SCS Job Fair. The fair which included three scheduled information sessions was billed as “three chances to get your ideal job.” Advertised posts included Legal Officer, Towing Agents, Booting Agents, Enforcement Agents, Call Centre Agent, IT Manager and Accounting Officer among others.
Director of SCS, Ifa Kamau Cush speaking with Stabroek News said that the turnout was indicative of the high level of unemployment in the country.
“It shows the high level of unemployment in this country. People need jobs and we are providing that. No matter what else is said what needs to be remembered is that we are creating in excess of 100 jobs,” Kush said.
Asked to comment on central government’s review of his contract with City Hall, Kush said he would only comment on the Attorney General’s review since its conclusion that the contract was legal is of paramount importance. He however would not concede that the contract holds a terror clause, stating instead that it was a standard business clause with nothing sinister attached.
“The Attorney General concluded that there was nothing illegal about the contract that is what is important. I don’t concede that point, there is nothing terrorist about the contract. That clause is a standard business clause,” he said.
The AG’s review of the contract which was made public earlier this month had concluded that the contract is of such “unequal bargaining strength” that it includes a clause intended to scare the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) at the prospect of terminating the agreement.
The report also noted that the fees and fines to the account of the concessionaire “seem to be so onerous on the city and thus the citizens that a caveat is provided that these figures could be reduced by agreement between the parties.”
In light of this fact, the AG noted that the parties can revisit the terms and conditions of the agreement, with the city employing an accountant to advise it on the numbers with a view to reaching a reasonable financial fees and fines regime along with the appropriate consideration that ought to be paid to the city.
This advice aligns with some of the findings of the separate Ministry of Finance (MoF) review of the contract, in which it described the deal in some areas as exploitive and labelled the city’s outlook on aspects of the deal as “ignorant.” As a consequence the MoF advised the city to “re-assess the financing arrangement of the contract.”
Though Mayor Patricia Chase-Green immediately after the release of these reports expressed the city’s intention to comply with these recommendations and has called for a meeting to allow the full council to decide the way forward to date nothing has happened.
At the August 8, statutory meeting the Mayor said that a meeting to discuss findings of the review should be called “soon.” Two weeks later at Monday’s statutory she said that the meeting would be scheduled for this week.
“A meeting will have to be organized for one day between Tuesday and Friday,” she had said.
There has been no meeting and councillors contacted by Stabroek News say that none is scheduled for today.
Meanwhile, the scores of persons who turned up at the Job Fair were all hoping that SCS had the answer to their financial security. Recent CSEC graduates mingled with university graduates, single parents, mature workers and parents looking to find a job for their children.
Among those looking for jobs was 23-year-old single mother of one, Asante Peters.
Peters explained to Stabroek News that due to downsizing she had recently been laid off from Caribbean International Distributors Incorporated (CIDI), the company which distributes the Thrill soft drink.
“They decided to keep those workers who had the most years and I was not one of them. I have a seven year old and bills to take care of, so I really need a job,” Peters explained. She noted that she has been surviving by selling homemade snacks as well as an occasional position as a substitute security guard.
“If somebody ain’t show up they might call me and say work tonight and we’ll give you a $2,000 but that’s obviously not enough. I need something more secure,” she said.
Peters’ situation is very different from that of University student Patrick Benjamin-Huntley.
Benjamin-Huntley who is presently pursuing a degree at the University of Guyana is looking for a position flexible enough to allow him to earn while he studies.
“Everywhere else I’ve applied is telling me that I’m overqualified and underexperiened. I’m hoping I can find what I need here,” he explained.
Lack of experience according to Cush is not a problem.
“We are willing to train those who need training. All you need is the right attitude. A committed work is better than an experienced worker since that worker may have experience in how to avoid working,” Cush explained.
Also looking to find his niche is Christopher Ramnarine, who presently holds a position as an auditor.
“I have a diploma in Civil Engineering and haven’t been able to find anything in my field. So I’m here just checking to see if they have anything that would allow me to use my qualifications,” he said.
Meanwhile City Councillor Monica Thomas chose to attend the fair in hope of finding a position for her 23-year old daughter.
“She saw the ad in the newspapers and asked that I stop by after work and check it out for her since she is at a seminar,” she told Stabroek News explaining that this also helps her learn of opportunities that are available for other young people in her constituency.
“I’m taking a keen interest in everything done and said here this afternoon so that I can repeat it to those who need to hear it,” Councilor Thomas said.