City renegotiation committee proposes $100 per hour parking fee, termination of original agreement

The latest report from the City Council’s Parking Meter Renegotiation Committee recommends that parking fees be set at an upper limit of $25 per 15 minute interval and $100 per hour, inclusive of VAT.

“The initial metered parking fee for the integral parking zone shall be established as up to $25 per 15 minute interval (VAT inclusive) and $100 per hour (VAT inclusive),” the report, which was brought before the Mayor and City Council on Monday at its statutory meeting.

It added that the guidelines for booting should be set out in the by-laws.

The last parking tariff was set at $50 for every 15 minutes, after being reduced from $125 for the same amount of time.

It was also suggested that residential parking rates be lowered, although it was not stated by how much.

Furthermore, the committee recommended that clients pay for their time and not the space, and that the parties revisit being able to make transfers from one meter to another.

The report was not discussed, as it was suggested that talks be postponed until the submission of the committee’s final report. It was also noted that there were errors in the document that need to be corrected.

Councillor Akeem Peter, who heads the committee, said that the final report on the matter should be presented to the council “at the earliest possible date.”

In the outcomes section of the report, it was stated that the team “finalised every aspect of the recommendation efforts” where both parties (the City and Smart City Solutions)  “agreed to effect amendments to the rates, payment for time instead of space, enforcement procedures to name a few” with the exception of the “jurisdiction for arbitration.”

One of the committee’s recommendations was that any arbitration and dispute resolution should occur in Guyana and be governed under Guyana’s laws. It was also put forward that any agreement between the entities not be seen as a partnership.

Under dispute resolution, it was stated: “Except as expressly provided herein to the contrary, nothing contained in this Agreement shall constitute or be deemed to create a partnership, joint venture, or principal and agent relationship between the City and the concessionaire, nor shall any term or provision hereof be constructed in any way to grant, convey or create any rights or interest to any person not a party to this Agreement.”

The committee also stated that there should be a renegotiation of the share of profit. Per the last agreement, the council was only to receive 20% of parking fees and 10% of revenue from value-added services.

It was further recommended that there be a “unilateral termination” of the original agreement by the City and that the termination clause be entirely reassessed. An assessment of the agreement last year by the Attorney General’s office had found that there was a “terror clause” in the contract, which, among other things, would see the city paying monies equivalent to the total direct and indirect hard and soft cumulative gross investment of SCS if it ended the contract.

This committee headed by Peter is the second one set up by the council to renegotiate its controversial contract with SCS. The first was put together after the metered parking project had been suspended by central government in March. The team was specifically tasked with addressing five areas of concern identified by central government. These included the unequal terms of the contract, which disproportionately favoured the concessionaire; the fees, which were too burdensome; the very high penalties for non-compliance; and the inclusion of gazetted public roads and certain areas around schools and hospitals.

After three months of stakeholder engagements, the committee submitted its report to Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk King on August 2.

At an extraordinary statutory meeting on September 7, 13 of 25 councillors voted to continue the metered parking system with SCS, pending a renegotiation of the controversial contract with the company.

In renegotiating the contract, the new committee has been tasked with addressing and resolving all of the points/findings listed in the report of the last renegotiation committee.

This new committee reportedly met on several occasions from October 17 to November 24, to assess the contract, its amendment and the parking meter by-laws.

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