It seems almost a done deal that the infamous parking meters will be re-introduced in the city of Georgetown. The way is already cleared with the pronouncement by Minister of State Joseph Harmon that the government will not unnecessarily intervene in the affairs of the council. This has effectively tied the hands of the Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan regarding any possible intervention as was earlier the case.
The Alliance for Change (AFC) for its part, has practically capitulated by directing the absence of their Councillors at a crucial meeting to vote on the issue. The only dissenting votes emanated from the two PPP councillors who, despite their best efforts were unable to influence the vote.
The fact of the matter is that notwithstanding the seeming reluctance by central government to openly endorse the parking meters, the voting pattern in the council contains all the elements of an orchestrated and centrally-directed plan to have the decision railroaded, despite resistance from a wide cross-section of citizens of Georgetown and, for that matter, the country as a whole.
Apart from the unacceptable terms and conditions of the contract which remains highly skewed in favour of the contractor, the imposition of parking meters will certainly impose new burdens on the working people and the business community which is already reeling from the impact of a sluggish economy and reduced consumer spending. In the final analysis, however, it is the ordinary people who will be forced to carry the burden of the parking meters’ fee structure by way of higher consumer prices and transportation costs.
Georgetown is not ready for the installation of parking meters. The per capita income and spending power of Guyanese is far too low to justify an additional financial burden. Additionally, the road infrastructure remains largely under-developed even by regional standards, and with no organized and structured parking allotments.
But at an even more fundamental level, it seems that the views and concerns of citizens are of little or no significance as far as the city lords and the current political administration are concerned. The court challenge to the parking meters still remains inconclusive, but this was not enough to prevent the APNU-dominated council from their unbridled haste to have the decision implemented.
It is not too late to scrap the parking meter project in its entirety. All that is required is the political will to so do by those who walk the corridors of power. The way things look, this may be asking for too much, but in my view it is the only sensible thing to do.