The opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will not support a parking meter system for Georgetown under the current contract that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has signed with smart City Solutions (SCS), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo says.

“The PPP is opposed to the parking meter contract, period! Any manifestation of its return we will oppose,” Jagdeo told a press conference on Wednesday.

Jagdeo said that he believes that the contract was flawed from its beginning and that the M&CC’s move to tweak certain elements because of the scathing criticisms it received is not enough to relieve motorists or bring enough to the council’s coffers.

“I think the city can make more money by doing simple things even if it wants to introduce paid parking, it can receive without going through this contract again, but the reason why they are sticking to this contract is not just what will flow to the city… it’s what would flow to individuals,” Jagdeo said.

“All they need is a thousand gallons of paint and go around and mark every area in the city and once a month sell a sticker for a $2,000 not $800 a day, and people pay you and they park anywhere in the city once they have the sticker on the vehicle.” He noted that in this way Council officers can come around and if they see a vehicle parked without the sticker, then the owner can be charged for that.

Councillors recently met to discuss amendments to the contract it has with SCS and to discuss the new set of metered by-laws.

April 4th, 2018 has been set for a vote on the changes made.

In January of this year, a majority of city councillors voted in favour of accepting the recommendations of the parking meter renegotiation committee, which would see a reduction in parking fees to $150 per hour, exemptions for religious organisations and schools, and SCS giving up on its claim to garage parking.

The vote took place at an extraordinary statutory meeting of the M&CC, which was called to review the recommendations of the committee’s report and vote on the way forward in regards to the metered parking project.

The recommendations were opposed by only four councillors—APNU+AFC councillors Lionel Jaikarran, Sherod Duncan and PPP/C councillors Bishram Kuppen and Khame Sharma. Two councillors abstained from the vote.

Duncan and Jaikarran, have been vocal in their opposition to the metered parking contract.

Duncan said after the vote that those councillors who support the contract will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

“The majority of persons in Georgetown you talk to on a daily basis do not like this contract. Nobody is against parking meters per se—regulating the trafficking and all the benefits you can get from parking meters—but this contract, which parking meters stem from as a traffic management tool, is a flawed contract from the inception and that is what people don’t like—the fact that the contract has been shrouded in secrecy and a whole bunch of other stuff…this is not a good contract for the city,” Duncan, said adding that renegotiation of the contract “cannot change an illegality” in the minds of those who have opposed it from the inception.

Among the controversial provisions of the contract (which was initially a 49-year agreement, which was later amended to 20 years) is the “terror clause,” which states that were the agreement to be unilaterally terminated by the city, it would be required to “pay the concessionaire a lump sum payment equivalent to (i) the total direct and indirect, hard and soft cost cumulative gross investment of the concessionaire in the project; plus (ii) an amount equal to 25% of the direct and indirect hard and soft cost cumulative gross investment of the concessionaire in the project; multiplied by the number of years (or fraction) remaining under the term…(iii) the reasonable out of pocket and documented costs and expenses incurred by the concessionaire as a direct result of such termination.”

According to the final report from the renegotiation committee, part of the new agreement between the two parties is that the burden to be borne by the city should the contract be terminated will be far “less burdensome”.

“Smart City Solutions agreed that the lump sum payment required by the City for the unilateral termination will no longer be calculated by number of years (or fraction thereof), and further the conditions for unilateral termination will be adjusted to become less burdensome on the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown,” the report said.