PUBLIC Communications Consultants Limited (PCCL) has terminated its contract with Smart City Solutions Inc. (SCSI) as of Friday March 17, 2017, as the controversial parking meters contract is under government’s microscope.
A statement from PCCL on Friday noted that all media queries should be directed to SCSI’s office on telephone numbers (227) 5045/5046 and 231-7275. It is unclear why the Public Relations Agency ended the contract, but the decision comes four days after Cabinet strongly suggested that the controversial parking meters contract be suspended for three months.
Despite government’s suggestion, Smart City Solutions – a Mexican company – is still enforcing its implementation and drivers vehicles continue to be clamped. Additionally, Town Clerk of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), Royston King has written to Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, seeking clarity on the issue, while pointing out that the suspension of the metered parking system would amount to a breach of contract, for which the municipality would have to compensate contractor Smart City Solutions.
King in his letter told Minister Bulkan that there is no provision in the contract between the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and SCS to suspend the project and warned of the implications of doing so.
WATER STREET PROTEST
Meanwhile, the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) took its protest to Water Street, Georgetown, where SCS has illegally placed parking meters. This week, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) revealed that Water Street falls under their responsibility and SCS did not seek prior approval before placing several parking meters there.
The protest was held under the theme, ‘Right to Meter-Free Parking’ and demonstrated approximately 30 cars, deliberately being parked in this vicinity, as a show of defiance to Smart City Solutions. This initiative was taken by MAPM supporters, given the fact that Water Street (among others) falls under the purview of the Ministry, placing the current parking meter project in direct violation of existing laws.
Protesters were in possession of black flags, symbolic of death to businesses in the City since the introduction of the parking meters. One of the MAPM organisers, Marcel Gaskin believes that Town Clerk of the M&CC is stalling the suspension.
“Royston King is clearly stalling; this is a money making exercise for SCS; so he is trying to ensure that they stay in the game for as long as possible. I think the signs are clear that this game is going to shut down shortly, but they’re trying to stall to get as much money out of the system as they can,” Gaskin said.
Additionally, Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan reiterated that the Town Clerk should not have sought any clarity on the suspension, since he believes that government’s position is clear on the matter.
“The government has been very clear on their position, what has led up to their decision at Cabinet and so I see no reason why we need to have any more clarity on the matter. We should go ahead and suspend this contract,” Duncan told reporters.
The Deputy Mayor is of the view that if allowed, the parking meters will result in the death of Georgetown.
“If these parking meters continue, it will mean the death of the city. Lots of businesses have already complained about drop in sales, drop in foot traffic on the business premises and so we believe that if this continues, if the parking meters project goes forward, it will mean the death of Georgetown and we love our city too much before it dies.”
Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Green is currently in the United States and is expected to return on March 25, after which a statutory meeting will be convened and a decision will be made by the M&CC on the suspension of the contract.