Op: Ed- PREPARE TO BOYCOTT, EVEN AS BULKAN PREPARES TO APPROVE PARKING METER BYLAWS

City Hall debated and voted to approve the parking meter bylaws. Two of the vocal objectors for the parking meter contract – Councilors Duncan and Jaikaran, both AFC members –  were absent from the debate and the vote. A third AFC member came late to the meeting and then abstained. It was curious and puzzling that these AFC members took such a low profile in the debate and voting for the parking meter bylaws, given their previously robust objection. Were they under instructions from AFC leaders to stand down? Was the AFC leadership intimidated, given the prominent PNC/APNU warnings that the parking meter bylaws must be passed and the City Council be given a smooth space to impose parking meters on the Citizens of Georgetown and on citizens that visit and work in Georgetown? Did they stand down because the AFC broke ranks with APNU?

Oscar Clarke had already given the signal that Congress Place and the PNC expected nothing less than the bylaws approval from the City’s Fathers and Mothers (Councilors). It is now expected that the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, will approve the bylaws in about two weeks, clearing the way for the parking meter to become operational again. Unless Bulkan resists instructions from higher ups, his approval is certain. We know this much because Minister Harmon has already pronounced that the Granger-led Government has no objections when he made clear that City Hall must be allowed to implement the parking meter contract. Minister Harmon spoke for the Granger-led APNU+AFC Cabinet which includes the AFC and the WPA. At this time, neither the WPA nor the AFC has indicated that they are not supportive of this position.

Two weeks ago, I challenge the political parties to state their position now on the parking meters. I fully expect that citizens will come out in rejection of this new iteration of the parking meters and this rejection will come in the form of boycotts and through public protests. The private sector has already indicated its objection and the Movement Against the Parking Meters is expected to protest soon. My challenge was for political parties and leaders to come out before public protests and stand on principles and conviction, not wait to see where and how the wind is blowing. We know the position of the major political parties – the PNC (APNU) is unequivocal in their support, while the PPP has been unequivocal in their rejection of the parking meter contract. What is the formal position of the AFC and WPA? Is the Cabinet’s position as articulated by Harmon reflective of the positions of the AFC and the WPA?

When the original parking meter contract was enforced in Georgetown (2016/2017) and the boycott and protest were overwhelming, the AFC cowardly embraced Councilor Duncan’s earlier objection to the parking meters as an AFC position. This is in spite of prior equivocation on the matter by AFC leaders. What drove them to eventually express dissatisfaction with the parking meter contract fiasco was the total repudiation by citizens. The AFC’s position then was driven by vulgar political opportunism and not by conviction. We now are at a stage when City Hall is awaiting the approval from Minister Bulkan, an approval that has been guaranteed by positions already expressed by Minister Harmon and Oscar Clarke. We have no idea where AFC stands, other than they are part of the collective of the APNU+AFC Cabinet for whom Minister Harmon spoke. This also applies to the WPA which is part of the APNU+AFC Cabinet.

In the absence of any public position and in the midst of their total silence, coupled with the puzzling behavior of their members on the City Council, I have to assume that the AFC has capitulated and is now fully behind the parking meter contract. The AFC appears to be standing with City Hall, standing against the citizens. I have to assume that the absence of the two prominent AFC councilors from the debate and vote and the abstention from the debate and vote by the third AFC member resulted from them being instructed by AFC leaders to take a softball approach and stand down. It is disappointing that these members allowed the approval with not even a whimper, after their sterling objection from the inception. Something clearly persuaded them to give up their robust objection in favor of capitulation.

My reading is that APNU/PNC, AFC and the WPA support City Hall to impose parking meters under still rigid and onerous conditions for citizens while the PPP is opposed to City Hall imposing parking meters. We have arrived again, therefore, at a time for People’s Power to intervene. We must stop the parking meters. The green monsters must not be allowed to defile our citizens. We stopped them before. We can stop them again.

Dr. Leslie Ramsammy


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