The parking meter contract has been made possible by APNU+AFC

Dear Editor,

There is no dispute:  the parking meter contract is opposed by the vast majority of the citizens of George-town and of Guyana as a whole. APNU+AFC is responsible for this fiasco. While it is City Hall in Georgetown which is implementing this horrendous contract, APNU+AFC is making it possible. I suspect Guyanese citizens will come out in force to protest and reject the parking meters. It is an obligation of the political parties and their leasers to state unequivocally what their position is. I am calling, therefore, for each political party to state their unequivocal position on parking meters and the newly amended parking meter contract and by-laws.

The toxic parking meter contract, unfortunately, is back, auspices of APNU+AFC. The PNC statement, as expressed by Mr Oscar Clarke, that the parking meters cannot be stopped is vulgar and insulting. The PPP councillors have expressed their opposition and, as far as I know, their position reflects the position of the PPP. The PPP, like their councillors at City Hall, is opposed to the parking meters, at least as far as I am aware. Clearly, given the position of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and Oscar Clarke, we know that the PNC, and their creation, APNU, not only support parking meters, they want an imposition regardless of what the citizens feel. But what is the official position of the AFC and the WPA? Are these political parties political opportunists, waiting to see which way the wind blows?

The AFC, which has seen its autonomy usurped by the PNC (APNU), has a unique opportunity to demonstrate some guts and to show that they can stand up for the right thing. I know that certain councillors with AFC labels, for example Councillor Duncan, have expressed their dissatisfaction about parking meters for Georgetown. But I would like to hear the official position of the AFC, as well as the WPA, now. They must not wait to gauge how people react. The fact is we are on the verge of City Hall imposing parking meters again. As before, I expect massive protest. The AFC waited until they saw the overwhelming protest before they finally took a strong position, the last time around (2016-17). This time, they must say up-front, now, what their position is. The AFC leadership must speak on this matter and not play games.

The citizens of Georgetown and the wider Guyana know that we can stop the parking meters by a united stand. We have shown that when we stand together against wrong, we can preserve dignity, truth and the right thing. The Mayor and her supporters at City Hall have received the blessings of APNU+AFC in the form of the Oscar Clarke edict. Make no mistake, the Oscar Clarke edict that nothing can stop the parking meters come out of the belly of the PNC. While there might be a smattering of opposition within their ranks from certain councillors, the APNU+AFC machinery will ensure that they force the parking meters on the people. Will the AFC be a willing poodle or will they demonstrate spine and object now?

The City Council has made it clear that parking meters will become a part of daily living, no matter what citizens think. Oscar Clarke arrogantly declared that citizens can huff and puff, but they cannot stop the parking meters from being introduced now. In his own way he made it known that no matter how many people protest and no matter how much noise in the world they make, nothing can stop City Hall from imposing parking meters. The PNC has spoken and they fully expect that the APNU+AFC machinery will follow fully.

Clarke’s blunt, if vulgar, warning to the citizens of Georgetown and of Guyana is not shocking. He sits as a councillor at City Hall to ensure that the PNC hegemony is unchallenged; his position reflects the position of Congress Place. He acts totally within the ambit of the PNC. In the PNC world, City Hall is a creature of the PNC and must act accordingly. Thus, when Mayor Chase-Green and Deputy Mayor Peters, together with the City Clerk, Royston King, act as if there is a divine right to impose parking meters, it is because they envisage those divine rights to have emanated from Congress Place and delivered by Clarke.

While some Councillors did succeed in forcing a deferment on the vote for the amended parking meter by-laws, this is just a temporary setback and one can expect that the by-laws would be passed and introduced very shortly. The AFC will permit their two Councillors to express dismay, while the AFC executive will stand by like spineless poodles waiting to see what happens. If the public protest threatens to derail the parking meters again, the AFC executive will claim that the Councillors who stood up against the parking meters were reflecting the AFC position all along. This is what they did before. Well, this time we want to know from the AFC, the WPA and others what their position is.

In the end this fiasco is wholly the making of APNU+AFC. It might be driven by Congress Place and the PNC, but the fiasco cannot be disowned by APNU+AFC.

Yours faithfully,

Leslie Ramsammy

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