GCCI backs call for parking meter system revocation

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) yesterday backed calls for the immediate revoking of the parking meters contract, while posing a series of questions to the city and the government on the deal.

In a press release issued yesterday, the GCCI said it had met representatives from the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) to discuss issues surrounding the controversial agreement between the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and Smart City Solutions (SCS), and the recent public announcement by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan that Parking Meters ‘are here to stay’ in Guyana.

The business support organisation said it used the opportunity to brief MAPM about its “own research which reflected a significant downturn in economic activity directly as a result of the introduction of paid parking among others issues in the central business district of Georgetown…”

The GCCI said that while it welcomed the current suspension of the parking meter system, it supports MAPM’s position and “strongly calls on the M&CC and the Government of Guyana to immediately revoke the current parking meter contract between the SCS and the M&CC.”  The release said the GCCI, at the same time calls on government and the M&CC “to implement a fair and transparent process that involves all stakeholders with regard to the procurement and introduction of a parking system in Georgetown that would address traffic congestion.”

Among the issues discussed at the meeting with MAPM were the lack of evidence of any economic/social impact assessment done prior to the implementation of the agreement between M&CC and SCS; the absence of any feasibility studies done on the project prior to its implementation; the blatant failure to adhere to the Public Procurement process and the clear indications that the procurement regulations of both the M&CC and the government had been breached.

Other issues discussed, the release said, were that no provisions were made for concessionary parking for persons affected by disabilities; the discourteous, often belligerent manner in which the SCS operatives went about enforcing parking restrictions; questions about SCS’s record and experience of managing parking meter systems anywhere in the world before coming to Guyana and of  the numerous operational issues that have emerged attesting to the inexperience and general disorganization of SCS in implementing a parking meter system.

The two sides also spoke about the fact that VAT was being charged on penalties imposed under the parking rules. “In other words a fine plus tax on that fine,” the release said.

Other issues raised in the meeting included the complete lack of transparency in the process; failure to demonstrate thorough and comprehensive consultation with the people of Guyana; failure by the M&CC to make public all feasibility studies conducted; failure by the M&CC to make public all reports and minutes from stakeholders’ meetings held prior to the implementation of the parking meter project; absence of any evidence to demonstrate that the tendering process used in the selection and award of the contract to SCS was fair and transparent and the absence of comprehensive details regarding the timetable for consultations following the suspension of the contract between M&CC and SCS.

The business support organisation said the absence of any details regarding which stakeholders and organizations the M&CC will be consulting during the consultations process was also raised, as well as the fact that there had been “reasonable calls by members of the public for a comprehensive audit of the M&CC by independent auditors.”

Following the discussions, the GCCI said, it was now asking the M&CC and the government to disclose evidence to demonstrate that the tendering process used in the selection and award of the contract to SCS was fair and transparent.

It also requested that the M&CC and the government make public all reports and minutes from stakeholders’ meetings held prior to the implementation of the project and details on the upcoming consultations with SCS, including a timetable.

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