Parking meter burden
It was a mass bereavement of sorts as persistent protesters in Georgetown continued their demonstration against the parking meter project on Thursday.
The “Water Street Mourners” have now coined themselves a new designation – “undertakers” – as they once again led the parking meter protest in front of City
Hall. This is the sixth straight demonstration organised by the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) in response to the secretive manner in which the contract was signed between City Hall and Mexican company Smart City Solutions Inc (SCSI) and the subsequent rollout which attracted widespread controversy.
At Thursday afternoon’s protest, the ‘mourners’ were clad in black and walked around on Regent Street holding replicas of a tombstone decorated in the colours of the parking meters, an open casket carrying the by-laws and another casket with a replica of City Hall inside. All the while, melodrama was on full display as the mourners expressed great melancholy with wailing sounds amid faux tears and screams, noting that “the city has died.”
The turnout was sizeable and the protesters reiterated calls for the complete revocation of the parking meter contract. Some protesters, as highlighted on one of the placards, called on President David Granger to embody the traits of his namesake, King David, highlighting that the Head of State could save them from the “burden” of the parking meters.
“I would like to ask President David Granger to be like David in the Bible and free the people of Guyana from this oppression; it’s too burdensome…please listen to the people, we are the ones that voted for you and put you in power so you have to listen to us,” protester “Tiffany” told this publication.
Businessman Stanley McIntosh told Guyana Times that the demonstrations would continue until the project folded.
“I think these people will stay out here until these people pack it up back, put them in the containers they bring it in and send it back to Mexico or wherever it came from,” he expressed.
“Guyanese people cannot afford now to pay this type of parking…a car is not a luxury for some people, it’s a necessity,” the businessman added.
Another demonstrator, Mohamed Rahaman decried the high cost of living in the country.
“A man got three or four children; he got to come to work in Georgetown, [because] there are no jobs or work in the countryside, [but] you got pay to work, pay to eat, pay to shop, what is the reason?” the man queried.
As the mock funeral continued, the “undertakers” laid the replicas on the ground and began to re-enact emotional scenes from a funeral. Mourners sprayed perfume around the coffins, which held markings such as “SCS Contract” and “by-laws” and flowers were thrown around the tombstone shaped as a parking meter. Councillor Junior Garrett, who was one of the four that signed the contract, arrived in the midst of the re-enactment. When MAPM protesters attempted to solicit comments from the official, he told them that they should “speak to the court” and calmly walked away into City Hall’s compound.
It was Monday that the High Court denied the application for a stay of execution filed by Attorney-at-Law Kamal Ramkarran, who represented Mohendra Arjune, the civilian that challenged the legality of the parking meter project. This effectively cleared the way for paid parking to continue in the city pending the outcome of the matter. At the hearing, Justice Brassington Reynolds had explained that while the proceedings could act as a ‘stay’, it did not extend to the executive order of the parking meter contract. The stay had been intended to put a pause on the parking meter contract. This would have allowed motorists to park without having to pay.
At last week’s protest, retired international commodities dealer Quinn Anderson had called for international donor agencies from the European Union, United States and Canada to withhold their funding until a more transparent project was rolled out. Demonstrators had pranced to the Dave Martins ballad “Postpone”, which highlighted many of the noted burdensome measures meted out to the public. (Shemuel Fanfair)