Feb 09, 2017 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom

trotmanThe AFC must believe that Guyanese were sleeping while it was silent. The AFC has out of the blues called for the parking meter system to be parked.
The AFC’s belated call has only come following a public protest by civil society elements against the parking meter system. It came on the very day that Cabinet met and expressed some concern about the burden of the parking meter fees on citizens.
The AFC was part of the government which had commissioned two reviews of the parking meter contract. The first review concluded that there was nothing illegal about the parking meter contract. The second study, done by the Ministry of Finance, opined that the fees would be burdensome. No one bothered to find out how the public felt.
The public was never silent on this issue. Voices and words of opposition were expressed from the day this deal became public. The terms of the contract were lambasted in the media. The lack of public consultations was criticized. The fee structure came in for a hammering. The government was asked to intervene. It did not. It allowed City Council to vote on the issue and the Council approved of the deal.
It was public condemnation which caused the parking meter fees to be reduced from the proposed $500 per hour to the present rate of $200 per hour. There are calls now for the rate to be further reduced, but it not feasible for the parking meter company to go any lower.
People who lived in certain areas where the meters were to be located complained that the meters would affect them, since many of them parked on the roadside. Was the AFC listening?
Taxi drivers were worried about the effect of the meters on them. Did the AFC take them seriously?
The teachers had to negotiate with the parking meter company to be exempted from parking meter charges. Should this not have signaled to the AFC that other workers would be affected?
Workers were asking what would happen to them if they had to pay for parking meters all day. Where was the AFC?
The AFC is in bed with the government. The AFC is part of the government. If the AFC could not force the government to take action, then what is the use of the AFC in the government?
What say does the AFC have in the government? Can it influence things within the government or is it simply tagging along?
The government, of which the AFC is a part, had a second chance to park the parking meters. The government was required to approve of the by-laws. Reports in the media indicated that it did. The AFC must now say whether it called on its partners in the government to not approve the deal.
The AFC is afraid that it will lose its support base within the city because of the parking meter system. Civil society is outraged by the parking meters. The AFC has decided that it must now express its reservations. It has done so, but people will ask why did the AFC not use its position within the government to not approve the by-laws?
The government itself, in the face of public pressure, is now expressing some reservations. But what good is that now? The horse has already bolted from the stables. The AFC is now calling for the stable doors to be shut. A contract has been signed between City Hall and the private company which is implementing the parking meter system.
There is one last chance for the AFC to show that it has teeth. The government has to gazette the by-laws for parking meters. Let us see if the AFC can force the government to park that decision.