Anti-parking meter protest grows
– as citizens reiterate revocation callCitizens have once again turned out in their numbers, calling for the scrapping of the parking meter project and not a reduction in rates.This is the second protest organised by the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) and more protests are expected in the coming weeks, if the parking meter project is not shelved. The crowd, which increased from last week, assembled in front of City Hall and vented their frustration, this time, however, there were no parking meter supporters.Businessman and television personality Nizam Hussain told Guyana Times that while he supported the country’s development, he was completely against the fashion in which the parking project was implemented.“End the bullyism” – the protesters want a revocation of the parking meter contract“I have no issue with parking meters and paying a nominal fee, but I have an issue with how this parking meter [was] forced down the throats of the Guyanese people. This is like a state far beyond a police state,” the businessman noted.He surmised that the entire project was an atrocity that was committed on citizens.Similarly, Satesh Rajpat, who is a Grievance Officer attached to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), questioned the merits of the contract which Mayor Patricia Chase Green had initially refused to disclose.“I can’t see you signing a deal or contract and you’re only benefiting 20 per cent – that is madness!” Rajpat exclaimed.“Everybody paying tax here, so we can’t stand for that,” the GAWU representative added.This demonstrator decries the Value Added TaxMeanwhile, outgoing Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, Sherod Duncan was seen moving among the protesters on his bicycle while holding placards advocating for the populace to “starve” the parking meters.Meanwhile Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran also threw his support behind the protest. On Thursday, he highlighted that it was too late for considerations to reduce the parking meter fees.Ramkarran echoed the call to revoke the parking meter contract. He joined a number of business people and other concerned citizens who have noted the added burden the parking meters have brought to the populace.Ramkarran said the project was past the point of reduction. “Reduction from $32,000 a month to what, are you planning to reduce it to $2000 a month so that people can afford?” pondered the former Speaker. Ramkarran’s comments come just one day after President David Granger ordered a reduction in the rates which at present amount to $200 an hour before the Value Added Tax (VAT) is factored in.Suggesting that the by-laws were a burden, the former Speaker noted that consumers may be forced to sell their vehicles if they could not afford to pay the hefty fines attached for parking without paying.“This is just absolutely horrendous. This is not going to be accepted by people in Guyana, Georgetown or anywhere,” the former Speaker stressed.Ousted Town Clerk and Attorney-at-Law Carol Sooba also joined the picket line. She noted that the parking meters should not have been implemented before the approval of the by-laws.“I don’t think at this stage reducing fees would remedy the situation…I don’t think that the current Administration [is] humane or they have a heart or care about the citizens,” the former Town Clerk noted.Sooba also assessed the performance of current Town Clerk Royston King, questioning his administrative skills.“He has to go back to school…he is not an administrator; he has to be in a system where he can utilise his bullyish attitude,” Sooba expressed. Mayor Chase Green and the Town Clerk were not seen throughout the hour-long protest on Thursday.At its conclusion, the large crowd disbursed after a rendition of the National Anthem. The parking meter fees were rolled out on January 24. However, as a backlash to the “exorbitant” fees, motorists have mostly stopped parking in the central business district where several areas are metered.Meanwhile, the New Building Society (NBS) Commercial Bank has taken the movement against the parking meters one step forward and has filed a court action, challenging the bylaws that were approval by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan.The Court has since ordered that the Minister show cause why his approval should not be quashed. The case is set to be heard on February 20.