SMART City Solutions (SCS), the foreign company granted the concession to install parking meters in Georgetown, is now willing to drop the price anywhere between $100 and $150 per hour to park. Initially, the price was $500 per hour.
A source told the Guyana Chronicle on Wednesday that the SCS team is willing to negotiate and has indicated that it is prepared to significantly lower the cost to park . The new figures would see a customer paying anywhere from $25 to around $38 for every 15 minutes.
The members of the new re-negotiating team have since been introduced to the SCS executives and the two sides have since exchanged recommendations. The SCS team should be in Guyana until Friday.
Last September, 13 of 25 city councillors voted in favour of setting up a new committee, consisting of members of the public this time around, to start a fresh process of negotiation with SCS.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Councillor Akeem Peter was selected to be chairman of this committee, with another APNU Councillor Noelle Chow-Chee being named vice-chair.
The other members of the new committee are Councillors Oscar Clarke, Jameel Rasul, James Samuels, Heston Bostwick, and Ivor Henry. Town Clerk Royston King and City Treasurer Ron McCalman will complete the nine-man team, but they will sit in an advisory capacity.
Two members of the public, Owen Godfrey Edwards, a civil engineer and Robin Hunte, an attorney-at-law were chosen by the Council to sit on the committee.
Edwards and Hunte were selected over MBA doctoral student Joseph Eastman and retired schoolteacher Pamela Arthur.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP)’s Bishram Kuppen, who is opposed to King sitting on the committee for fear he would influence the direction that it takes, was chosen to sit on the new team by Councillor Bostwick, but he declined the nomination.
Meanwhile, the new chairman told the Chronicle that the committee will be working to achieve “the most possible and suitable deal” for the citizens of Georgetown.
“One of the first things I would be doing is asking for much more external helpers as it relates to the accounting systems. Numbers would play a great role,” he said, adding that the working income of most of the workers in Georgetown and the affordability of parking meters on the ‘normal’ person will have to be taken into account.
“We will bring the human face back to the issue, because we understood that it wasn’t really about parking meters, but it was about the contract. We want to help people understand the process,” Peter explained.
He said, too, that along with a reduction in the cost to park, the team will also be looking at the spaces that were offered to SCS, such as those in front schools.
“Even though we began on a wrong foot, I view this as an opportunity now for us to realign ourselves along the right path, and get a human face to parking meters. The submission of documents is not an option; it’s a necessity, a must-do. Once those are submitted, I see us moving forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, the contract that the M&CC entered into with SCS came under heavy criticism from some city councillors, who called for a complete revocation of it.
Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran had said that the project lacked transparency from the beginning, was not open to public scrutiny, and should be shelved immediately.
“In May 2016, the Council was informed that the contract was signed for the implementation of parking meters. To my knowledge, at no time do I recall ever discussing, much less voting, on a proposal to implement this. I didn’t even see a contract until much later on.”
Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor Sherod Duncan had repeatedly called SCS “a sham of a company” and referred to how it disrespected the committee that the M&CC tasked with renegotiating the contract, by not providing requested documents.
“SCS is a bad deal for the city. How can we continue to work with them? We cannot do business with them,” Duncan had said.