Protestors mourn city’s “death” as business plummets

first_imgParking meter burdenBY SHEMUEL FANFAIRSeveral protesters against the arbitrary Parking Meter Project wore sombre colours on Wednesday afternoon as they sought to signify what they described as a “dying capital city”, since businesses continue to see reduced sales ever sinceDemonstrators vow to gather come rain or shinethe project rolled out last month.“The whole [of] Georgetown feel like a dead that’s why we wore black and we want to bury this dead once and for all. It has crippled our economy and crippled business and we are not yet ready for parking meters because our country is not well developed,” a city businessman told the media on Wednesday during the protest.He reasoned that the depleted business sales will cause an increase in crime, as employers may be forced to eventually lay off workers.Standing in solidarity with him was fellow businessperson, Usha Patel, who told the media that the very spirit of Georgetown is “dying”, with the addition ofRevoke the contract now! The Water Street mourners decry dying business salesnumerous tax measures.“There has been too many changes with taxes on everyday commodities – your toothpaste, soap, private education… new revelations are being disclosed about the contract, it’s confusing the people and it’s now time to revoke it,” the businesswoman pointed out.The protester further encouraged Mayor Patricia Chase Green to listen to the concerns of citizens, highlighting that the City Council is moving forward despite the many protest actions.“She’s not listening, she’s going full steam ahead,” Patel stated.The Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) group maintained a significant portion of its demonstrators in front of City Hall despite the inclement weather conditions on Wednesday. The picket line even gained the support of JuniorDon’t clamp meFinance Minister Jaipaul Sharma’s mother, Savitri Sharma, who called for a revocation of the contract in its present form.Even though the City Council maintains that the contract will not be revoked, protestors are adamant that the meters must go and that City Hall and Smart City Solutions should be held accountable for violating a High Court order by continuing to clamp of vehicles. This call for sanction was echoed by People’s Progressive Party parliamentarian, Dr Vindhya Persaud, businessman Roshan Khan and several other business owners, other stakeholders and ordinary Guyanese present at Wednesday’s protest.Just before the lunch time protest concluded, a few angry demonstrators broke away from the pack and followed Smart City Solutions shareholder Simon Moshesvilli and uttered slurs which included derogatory remarks. This occurred moments after he left an apparent meeting at City Hall.“Face de media… you come to carry away Guyanese money,” were some of the remarks uttered to the SCS official. Several Police ranks moved along with the group of advancing protesters and the tension subsided after a few minutes.Meanwhile, calls for the termination of the Parking Meter Project continue to escalate with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), being two of the orgnaisations which registered displeasure with the contract’s “lack of transparency”.Following a few days of protest against the Parking Meter Project and the protracted intervention from Central Government, the authorities at City Hall announced a 50 per cent reduction in rates but citizens continue to reject the initiative. Stakeholders are arguing that the reduced fees do not address the problems of lack of inclusivity and the rampant corruption believed to be involved in the arrangement.The High Court on February 16 granted an order which legal luminaries interpreted to mean that the paid parking project is suspended until the legal proceedings are resolved. The writ had stated, among other things, that, “an order nisi of certiorari be and is hereby granted to quash the decision of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown to enter into an agreement on or around 13 May, 2016”.The respondents also have to show cause against all the orders made by the Chief Justice to quash their decision to enter into the contract, which has already caused weekly mass protests in front of City Hall.The court date is set for February 27, before Justice Brassington Reynolds. Should they fail to comply, the document noted, they will be held in contempt of court.last_img

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