So I had written a letter to the editors for a couple papers regarding the parking meters project in Georgetown. Haven’t seen anything published so I’m going to post it here:
Firstly, please note that I am not speaking on behalf of my fellow councillors, or the City’s administration, but wholly practicing my democratic right and freedom to express my thoughts and positions as an independent member of the Council.
I cannot support this project as it is currently, and I have been provided with little evidence to convince me to change my position. I would like to echo the concerns raised by our Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sherod Duncan, regarding the manner in which the contract for the parking meters has been awarded, and the arbitrary approach that has been adopted in the planned introduction of the parking meters in the heart of Georgetown. I fear this initiative will be reminiscent of the removal of the vendors from Stabroek, heavy-handed and with no consultation, and no understanding of the far-reaching repercussions.
It gravely worries me that there has been no stakeholder engagement, no impact assessment of introducing the meters. There has been no transparency, in awarding National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions, a 49 year contract that sees the city receiving only 20% of revenues (which reflects an estimated GY$100 million for the City). I am perplexed as to why such a significant contract is not a matter of public record.
Embarrassingly, most councilors (myself included) are as much in the dark about the contents of this supposedly top-secret document. It is my hope that all will be revealed post-haste.
I am not opposed to revenue generation. There is without a doubt that the City needs to increase its revenue. However, I am opposed to raising revenue in a short-sighted manner that squeezes the pockets of our entrepreneurs and residents, and potentially causes harm and embarrassment to the City. $600 an hour for parking, frankly speaking, is abhorrent. Further, I have not heard of any special provisions for pensioners, the differently-abled, or residents living within the commercial zones. We have been told, rather eloquently, that we do not have to worry about low income residents, since these persons “do not own cars” and tend to use public transportation. We have been told to trust in a company with years of experience in parking systems, but yet, does not even have an online presence, except for a few weeks ago, when an article regarding the parking meters contract was published locally.
I love this city immensely. I see the opportunities for progress and innovation. However, are we really and truly going anywhere, if we continue on a path of exclusion, and monolithic administration? The citizens of Georgetown, and all who use this city, deserves better.
Councillor of the Municipality of the City of Georgetown