Poor turnout by public transport operators at city parking contract consultation

There was a poor turnout on Wednesday at the planned consultation with the operators of taxis and minibuses in George-town on the city’s parking meter project.

While the meeting, which was organized by the committee established by the city to renegotiate the parking meter contract with Smart City Solutions (SCS), was slated to start at 2 pm, it wasn’t until 3.30 pm that one operator arrived at the council chambers at City Hall.

Members of the city’s renegotiating committee awaiting public transport operators in the almost empty Council Chambers on Wednesday.

Councillor Malcolm Ferreira, who heads the seven-member committee, said that some 12 persons, representing different stakeholders, eventually turned up for the meeting. He explained that they expressed their views about the current terms of the contract and also made inputs on what can and should be changed. He said their input was welcomed as it is what the consultations are about.

“We had no rebuttals. We just want to get the recommendations from the public,” he said, before stating that they want to encourage more persons to come out and represent the various stakeholders in the discussion.

Earlier, Ferreira had said that if operators did not show up, the committee members would visit the Stabroek Square to inform them that they were still open to having a conversation with them, he said

When Stabroek News contacted the United Minibus Union President Eon Andrews, he had related that representation was not made by his group since it was not formally invited.

Questions were also raised by some operators about the way in which persons were invited to the stakeholder meeting. Apart from it being reported in the media on Tuesday that the consultations would begin the same day, they said there were no ads or a public notice alerting them that there was going to be a meeting. How-ever, Ferreira said a press statement was issued. “I even went on the television and radio,” he added.

Before the 12 operators turned up for the meeting on Wednes-day, Ferreira had said that the apparent disinterest by the public transport operators was a lost opportunity for them to air their views and prolong the conversation about the project.

The city’s metered parking project has been suspended by the government for three months following public outcry and almost seven weeks of protest organized by the Movement Against Parking Meters, which has been calling for the contract to be revoked.

The committee met on Tuesday with the business community and the Movement Against Parking Meters, which both reiterated their calls for the current contract to be scrapped and for the process to establish the system to be restarted from the ground up.

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