The Mayor and City Council yesterday voted to give the Metered Parking Committee at least until the end of July to complete the renegotiation process begun a month ago.
Team Legacy Councillor Malcolm Ferreira, who chairs the renegotiating committee, explained to Stabroek News that during this extension the committee hopes to receive from the parking meters company, Smart City Solutions (SCS) several documents including a socioeconomic feasibility study to better guide their negotiations.
In presenting an update on the process, Ferreira told council members that the four days remaining in the period that metered parking was suspended are not enough to conclude negotiations and recommended that council give the committee at least one more month.
The controversial metered parking project implemented by the city was halted earlier this year by the government following a public outcry and almost seven weeks of protest organized by the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) calling for the contract to be revoked. MAPM has argued that the contract was negotiated and signed outside of local procurement laws and is thus illegal. Government having deemed the project to be onerous suspended the bylaws which empowered metered parking and gave the city three months to renegotiate a contract that the entire council can support.
Ferreira has indicated that his team intends to use their extra month to continue house-to-house consultations, conduct a two-day walkabout to engage various businesses, meet with representatives of various differently-abled groups and meet with the police commissioner and traffic chief.
He stressed that these engagements like the ones conducted over the last month will be consultations as opposed to confrontations. He explained that the committee has taken a position of listening rather than reacting to or rebutting any comments made.
“Hold your tongue or ask questions that will provide an opportunity for more information to be shared,” is how Ferreira described the method used.
Ferreira also explained that the committee has reached out to the Ministers of Legal Affairs and Finance as well as the legal counsel of the city for advice and is awaiting responses.
According to the councillor, the team wrote to the ministers at the same time they contacted Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan. However, while a meeting with Bulkan has occurred and been reported on extensively no response has been received from the other ministers.
Preliminary engagements with the city’s legal representative, Roger Yearwood have also occurred but the committee is still awaiting a presentation from the counsel.
Aside from its meeting with Bulkan, the committee has met with MAPM, the Private Sector Commission and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Ferreira explained that arrangements were made to meet with residents of the city living in and out of the metered parking zones as well as taxi and bus drivers. These engagements did not go as planned and Ferreira noted that the most disheartening moment of the process so far was when only one citizen, Don Singh, showed up on the day when residents were invited.
He told council that his committee has gone so far as to set up a tent at the Stabroek Square and invited persons to speak with them.
While taxi drivers responded to this request; minibus drivers were either too busy or didn’t care enough to engage on the issue.
Determined, the committee then prepared an eight-point questionnaire and went to meet drivers individually over a three-day period.
Two nights of house-to-house consultations then followed.
So far, the committee has visited all the bus and car parks and had 345 questionnaires completed, Ferreira explained.