Breach of bylaws leads to suspension of parking meter project

Breach of bylaws leads to suspension of parking meter project

Mar 19, 2017 News, http://www.kaieteurnewsonline....rking-meter-project/

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan issued an order on Friday declaring that the Georgetown Metered Parking By-Laws will be suspended for three months beginning March 17, 2017.

He did so in the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by virtue of Section 306 of the Municipal and District Council’s Act.

In his declaration, the Minister said that the M&CC was in default of its functions with respect to the by-laws governing the project. This order comes days after Cabinet had requested Bulkan to advise the M&CC to suspend the project for three months.

Based on information received, the ‘default’ which Bulkan referred to are the breaches which City Hall would have made against existing laws and the bylaws themselves. One of the major breaches was the installation of parking meters along roads which come under the purview of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and not the M&CC.

In fact, the Ministry had issued a statement saying that it has not signed any agreement with Smart City Solutions or M&CC neither did they give any permission to either party for parking meters to be positioned on public roads.

The Ministry pointed out Clive Lloyd Drive, Rupert Craig Highway, University of Guyana Access Road, Water Street, Battery Road, Sea Wall Road, Young Street, Barrack Street, Camp Road, Fort Street, Vlissengen Road, Irving Street, Station Street, Duncan Street, Thomas Road, Sheriff Street/Kitty Avenue, Ruimveldt Avenue, Houston Bypass and Eastern Highway as the roads in the city which come under its authority.

As a result of this clarification, all the present meters on these roads are illegal and persons would not have to pay for parking. According to the Ministry, these roads come under its purview through the Roads Act Chapter 51:01.

In addition to this violation of the law, Kaieteur News understands that the M&CC was supposed to make provision for parking of emergency vehicles. These vehicles are not supposed to pay for parking whatsoever even when they are not performing emergency duties and should not be subject to any enforcement activities.

In support of the clarification made by the Public Infrastructure Ministry, the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) staged a protest along Water Street in-front of Muneshwer’s Company Limited on Friday.
As part of the protest action, the group had a total of 30 vehicles occupying parking spaces and as expected, none was clamped by Smart City Solutions (SCS) staff.

Further, these two particular issues were highlighted by Minister of State Joseph Harmon during the post cabinet press conference on Friday as reasons behind their advice for a three month suspension of the project.

He said, “Some of the issues Cabinet agreed needed to be addressed were, the installation of parking meters on streets that are within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the use by the concessionaire company (SCS) of parapets that were not under the jurisdiction of the Mayor and City Council, the cost of parking in the city of Georgetown, provisions for the parking of police, army and fire service vehicles as well as ambulances in areas of Georgetown, the financial arrangements of the project and the greater involvement of stakeholders in the process.”

The Minister was also questioned on whether his government would be playing an influential role to sway City Hall’s decision to heed government’s advice on instituting the suspension, since the majority of councillors are politically aligned to the coalition government.

Harmon said that he believes the full council of the M&CC would act with some amount of alacrity in the interest of the people of Guyana, while understanding very clearly what the government’s position is.

Further, Harmon was asked if there is any other recourse the government can take in the event that its advice is not heeded.

According to the Minister, there are two options – suspension and revocation. He added that if an intervention by a party which can be described as ‘Force Majeure” exists, then certainly the parties to the contract will understand what needs to be done.

A ‘Force Majeure’ clause is commonly used in contracts and serves to free all parties of any liability when there is an unforeseen event beyond their control preventing the agreement from being enforced.

According to Harmon, the decision to advise City Hall to institute a suspension came after extensive discussions by Cabinet. He said that Cabinet believed it had sufficient information which informed the decision.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor and Acting Mayor Sherod Duncan has said that by the authority and duties conferred on him under Section 17(1) of the Municipal and District Councils Act giving authority to the Mayor to call an extraordinary meeting at any time, and Section 55(1) which regards notice of meetings, an extraordinary statutory meeting will be convened to allow for the full deliberation and decision by the council on the subject of the suspension.

He said that in all instances Government has exercised strategic patience, holding to the view that central government sparingly inserted itself into Local Government matters but instead, allowed the full measure of the democratic process to be engaged whether in rigorous debates at the level of council or a robust democratic engagement through lawful protests.

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