Councillor Malcolm Ferreira, Chairman of the metered parking renegotiation team, is confident that his team will be able to present a report of its findings by next week’s deadline, although he remains guarded on the contents.
Speaking with Stabroek News on Friday, Ferreira explained that his team has used the one-month extension granted to it to engage with the Attorney General and meet with several civil society groups, including the Guyana Society for the Blind and the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre.
Two engagements were also had with Smart City Solutions (SCS), the company with which City Hall had entered into a controversial contract to provide metered parking services.
The metered parking project was halted by the government following a public outcry and almost seven weeks of protest organised by the citizens’ pressure group, 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 the entire council can support. Those three months expired on June 21 but an extension to July 30 was granted at the request of the renegotiating team.
Ferreira had previously told Stabroek News that his team had reached out to SCS for access to several documents, including a socioeconomic feasibility study, to better guide its negotiations. He would neither confirm nor deny having received any of the requested documents.
Asked to explain what the report will entail, Ferreira said his team will be presenting all the suggestions it would have received from stakeholders to the City Council as well as its recommendations for the way forward. He would provide no details as to what these constitute. “All will be tabled in the report that is presented to council soon,” was his repeated response to a series of questions.
Since its formation in April, the seven-member renegotiating team has also met with Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan and the city’s Legal representative Roger Yearwood, MAPM, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Ferreira had previously 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 has told council that his committee has gone so far as to set up a tent at the Stabroek Square and invited person 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.
As a result, the committee then prepared an eight-point questionnaire and went to meet drivers individually over a three-day period, after which two nights of house to house consultations followed.
So far, the committee has visited all the bus and car park and had 345 questionnaires completed, Ferreira explained. There has been no indication of what these engagements yielded.
Other members of the committee are councillors Noelle Chow-Chee, Roopnarine Persaud, Ivelaw Henry, Tricia Richards, Carlyle Goring and Heston Bostwick.