Almost two years after the contentious parking meter project was scrapped owing to massive protest actions and litigation, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown is still “passionately” considering its reimplementation.
Making this revelation earlier this week, was Councillor Heston Bostwick, who, in an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard, said that the Council still regard those meters – which are still in several areas of the city – as investments, and therefore, they cannot be allowed to waste away.
Bostwick said that even though the meters are being vandalised, the Council’s hands are tied because it does not have the manpower, nor the financial resources to protect them.
“That is why we are passionately considering the reimplementation of parking meters because we know that they are investments out there. We recognise that it will put an additional financial burden on us to have the personnel to monitor them, and to protect them from being vandalized. It will incur an additional cost because we will have to get a security firm, or it will become an additional duty to the city constabulary. So, it is in that very vein, that we are considering the reimplementation of the parking meter system,” Bostwick said.
The Councillor said too, that even though the Council would have diverted resources towards the preparation of the piloted form of the project, the body did not turn a profit. Bostwick said that this reality alone should warrant a revisit of the project so that the M&CC can get back some returns.
Bostwick argued that the project is needed since there is still chaos in the city when it comes to parking and overall road use. He predicted that this will continue until there is a proper system in place to control the flow of traffic and to bring regularity.
Quizzed on whether he thinks this would be a good idea given the sour history with the project’s implementation, Bostwick said that whilst some persons were against the project, there were some who supported the initiative.
“Within our feasibility study, we heard from commuters and taxi owners and so forth, that they were able to benefit. Drivers told us that it was a more economical way of picking up passengers and get to point A or point B, unhindered because it was less congested. So, while they may be some against it, there are some who are in favour of the system. But we must recognize that those against, are not actually against parking in totality, they are against having to pay for parking,” the councillor said.
Bostwick said that the Council is not only looking at revisiting the project but is also formulating different approaches to how it can introduce the system with everyone’s best interest at heart.
The City Council and Smart City Solutions (SCS) back in May 2016, had entered into a contract for the system to be rolled out in certain parts of the City. The project came online eight months later at the dismay of many city business owners, residents, and others, who took to the streets in a series of mass protests.
As pressure began to mount on City Hall, with the government being called in to intervene, the bylaws were finally suspended; resulting in the project coming to a halt.
In January 2018, a “Parking Meter Renegotiation Committee” proposed a reduction in the parking fee from $500 per hour to $150 per hour, and three months later, the Council approved the amendments to the bylaws. However, the recommencement of the project sat with Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, who facilitated a meeting between the Council and Cabinet to further discuss the changes.
In June 2018, the Council appeared before Cabinet but to date, no decision has been announced.