– Govt satisfied with authenticity of company
Less than a day after Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan said that the parking meter project for the city will
have to be placed on hold, Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green on Monday announced that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) it will be going ahead with the project.
Over the past weeks, stakeholders have expressed concern over the possibility of the project being a shady deal aimed at exploiting the city populace, after doubts were raised about the authenticity of the company, Smart City Solutions Inc, which is collaborating with National Parking Systems (NPS) to install solar-powered parking meters in critical areas of Georgetown.
The Guyanese-born director of NPS and SCS, Kamau Cush, during an interview with Guyana Times just over a week ago, had insisted that his companies are legitimate and have been doing business on the international scene for a number of years.
He claimed that his companies have worked in Panama, Argentina, Peru and Mexico City, among others; however, checks by this publication at those locations turned up empty as there is no mention of either company.
Further checks on search engine www.whois.net revealed that the NPS website (http://npsgreatcities.com/) was registered on April 8, 2016 through www.godaddy.com a website hosting company in the US. This was about the same time fresh discussions about the installation of parking meters in Georgetown surfaced.
But at the press conference Monday, Mayor Chase-Green, who recently returned from Mexico where she was accompanied by M&CC Town Clerk Royston King as well as Councillors Oscar Clarke and Junior Garrett, said they were satisfied with the contractor, who had funded the trip.
According to the Mayor, Smart City Solutions is part of an international consortium and is implementing the parking meter project at zero cost to the city.
“I along with Councillors Oscar Clarke and Junior Garrett, Town Clerk Royton King are satisfied with the bona fides of Smart City Solutions,” she declared.
The Mayor clarified that NPS is an agency known to the Council, but has partnered with Smart City Solutions forming a consortium that is based in Mexico City. It was pointed out that at no point was it mentioned that the office of the partnering agency was located in New York, USA, specifically in Manhattan.
Moreover, Chase-Green noted that during the visit, the team was able to verify the consortium’s five years’ operating in Mexico City; the first to install parking meters in Lima, Peru; installation of meters in Panama, and also confirmed that the consortium is a distributor of parking meters equipment.
The mayor noted that these along with other information were handed over to Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan during a meeting prior to the press briefing on Monday.
Among those documents were the contract signed by the City and Smart City Solutions, which he had requested weeks ago when the controversy arose.
When contacted, Minister Bulkan told his newspaper that he too was “satisfied” with the documentations presented to him. In addition, the team presented the Communities Minister with documentations that support the right of the City Council to go ahead with the project in keeping with Chapter 28:01 of the Local Authority Laws.
On the other hand, the mayor sought to rubbish accusations that were being peddled in the media, stating that such reckless statements serves only to frustrate the progress of Georgetown:
“It is my strong view that there is a group of individuals who wished to snatch this project and all of its benefits from this council and citizens for their own private enterprise and personal gains…this will not happen under my watch.”
There have been concerns raised by several members of the Council, including Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan, who claimed they have been sidelined by the deal, noting among other things that the contract was not made available to them.
However in response the Mayor clarified that an informative session was held with the incumbent council pertaining to the contract for the parking meter project, which was undertaken by previous Council and so the current members were brought up-to-date.
Furthermore, Chase-Green said: “We took a deliberate decision not to share the contract because we wanted to secure investment.” This, she stated, was because of bad experiences with sharing contracts, proposals and initiatives, only to have them taken from the Council.
She went on to say that it was unfortunate that individuals have taken upon themselves to use social media to express reservations about the project. She was referring to the Deputy Mayor and added: “If any member was actively involved in the matters of the council and reading their minutes and updating themselves with the minutes, they would have recognised that the announcement was in there and they agreed and adopted those minutes so I found it very strange when persons can say to the media, they were not involved or they did not know.”
The Georgetown Mayor noted the contracted consortium has already deployed a technical team to Guyana to conduct various assessments. She further stated that the parking meters are being procured to be shipped to Guyana in time for the September 1, 2016 roll out.
Additionally, Chase-Green noted that with the consortium standing the full cost of installation and operationalisation of the project, the M&CC will be receiving 20 per cent of gross earnings along with other benefits which includes the job provision for some 100 persons.