Interviews by Oliceia Tinnie, photos by David Papannah
This week we asked taxi operators about their views on the parking meters.
Lyndon Lowenfield `It’s not a good idea. The authorities of the parking meter company came to us as taxi drivers and said that they are catering for 25 cars and each car has to pay $2,500. We proposed to them that we have 125 cars and $3,000 a month but they wanted more than that and it’s unreasonable. We have a hire car association and they still tell us we can’t work unless we agree to pay the $1.2 million a month.’
Godfrey Little `This is wrong. A parking meter on the taxi park is wrong. Now if you put a parking meter in the taxi park where are the taxi drivers going to operate from? They didn’t think before they do this and this is wrong. We’ve been operating here, at the side of Demico, for all these years and now they’re going to throw up a parking meter without finding out from them, where they could put it and where they get their livelihood from. I don’t plan to use any at this time either because it’s just too expensive for us. The movement that they are having to go against the parking meter I’m in support of it because we as Guyanese, it’s too hard for us.’
George Persaud`Man this thing is stress man, just have people in stress. I don’t support it because the money is too much. They naturally robbing people. I support the movement to not support the parking meter. This is just a money making thing, especially to Guyanese people. This is our country and we just suffering.’
Shastrie Alfred We as Upper Robb Street drivers having a rough time with this parking meter because every time we punch a 15 minutes it finish so fast so we have to punch in another 15 minutes to get a $500 work. Daily on the meters I spend about $600 because I work half day and I not even getting work like that now since this thing come on board. If they want the parking meter, work out something, like $100 per hour, I think that can work. They can drop the rate, we’re taxi men, they can’t get something and we will get nothing. I can’t continue with this, the rate too high’.
Swadesh Goolchand The parking meter is not for us out here because we already pay a revenue licence for the hire car, we pay for fitness, and we pay for insurance. We are yet to pay the city for parking but they are trying to negotiate. I used the parking meter one time when I went to the library, the process was ok but it’s just too expensive. I think the movement to boycott the parking meters is a good thing because now whenever I have to go to the library, I park somewhere else and then walk to the library. This thing is new to the Guyanese people and they’re not in favour of it.’
Dennis Williams `This parking meter thing a little rough on the taxi drivers and I think they should do something to help us out. I don’t think they should have put so much burden on us because people don’t have money to pay more and we can’t charge them more. We have to pay just like a regular car and do it every 15 minutes. Right now the town dead, people not coming in town because of the meters too and we taking more hours to get a customer. We can’t park in one spot all the time because the money will finish. We can’t even charge the people $100 more, where they getting it to give us? This thing is burdensome and I support the movement to boycott the meters. As soon as our time up they hurry to clamp our tires. I try to avoid being clamped by always standing next to my vehicle and topping up after the 15 minutes. In a day I would spend about $1,500 on the parking meter.’
Winston Franklin `To be honest, it wasn’t a proper consultation and for me it is not benefitting the citizens at all. If you’re going to go about doing something you must consult the public, look at the country’s infrastructure because this place is not ready for it. For me they should have looked at the economy as well. A person’s salary is meagre, from a taxi operator standpoint, sometime one hour, two hour we don’t get anything. How can we profit? I’m not supporting the parking meter, once the suit don’t fit me I’m not wearing it. I can’t increase my fare because if I’m feeling then my customers are feeling it too. I have to be like a fugitive. This thing just don’t fit. Taxi, even before the parking meter was tight, and now it more stiff. I support the movement to boycott the system and I’ll be protesting it.’
B. Dhannie `I used the parking meter for the first time on Thursday and paid for 15 minutes but had to wait about 45 minutes before I was able to get a work. If I have to do that all the time I’m working for a loss, my gas is going, wear and tear and I’m not making a profit. If I should get work and have to pay for it every 15 minutes and I should leave within less than 15 minutes, I go and by the time I come back I have to pay another 15 minutes. To me I’m not making any profit and that’s not making any sense. It’s a total rip off and something that they’re forcing down people’s throat that they can’t even chew. Ever since they initiate the plan the town is like a ghost town and I’ve never seen this place like this. This goes to show how hard it is. They’re taking out bread from a man’s pocket to full a tooth hole that can’t be filled.’
Saleem Deen `Parking meter is a big, big burden for us, we don’t need them. As a taxi driver in front Demico it’s a big burden. If we pay $50, for 15 minutes and then we don’t get any work then we have to pay another $50. We can’t get paid that way. Right now some of the meters not even functioning and we’ll have to move from there. It’s just very hard.’
Kolen Howard `From the inception I didn’t really feel the parking meter was a bad thing, however, the implementation of the parking meter was a shady business. That is one of the reasons why I have a suspicion about it and the way it was done. It has also taken an effect on my day-to-day operations because if you have to pay and then leave and go on the road then come back you have to keep paying, that’s absurd what they’re doing. The guy was here and I suggested that they could have gotten the public more involved with it and then they would have more ideas on how to go about it but because of how it was implemented we having this confusion. I suggested that they should have had even a sticker or a card colour coded … and they have an acceptable rate. People don’t mind paying but then there’s the price. As taxi operators if we take a 15 minutes and then go on the road the 15 minutes finish. They’re not giving us a roll over for our extra money. I’m a realist and the people won’t be able to afford it if I raise my fare. It would be unfair to the public to raise my fare just because of this. As it goes for this protest against the parking meters, to be fair, I’m looking at it from both sides, and they would have already implemented it and their money spend to get it where it is, it would be unfair in a way to want for it to be gone completely. Let us sit down together and work something out because City Council cash- strapped as it is but they could have just go about it a better way.