…motorists to start paying from todayThe grace period is up and today, motorists in Georgetown will have to pay in order to park around the city or face penalties. But concerns have been raised about what benefits, if any, the project would actually bring to the city, in the absence of a publicly released feasibility study.In an interview on Sunday, Georgetown Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan questioned why the study which Smart City Solutions Incorporated (SCSI) is said to have carried out has not been released to the public.“It would definitely give more insight into the why the parking meters are being laid out in a certain way. If the city is congested, it could tell us by what percentage the parking meters will reduce this,” he said.He noted that the study would also give the public some insight into some of the stakeholders who were consulted by the company and what their contributions were.Georgetown Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan“The recommendations of such a study could be useful in allowing the public to understand what options were on the table,” he posited.Last year, Chairman of the National Parking Systems (NPS), Ifa Cush had alluded to studies his company had done. He had stated that based on those studies and on experiences in Mexico, Peru and Panama, implementation of the parking meters would be the best option to control the flow of traffic.The absence of a feasibility study was a sore point with the Finance Ministry team which reviewed the parking meter contract. In its review, the Ministry team pointed out that there was some uncertainty about how aspects of the contract, such as the fees, were arrived at.“The prices appear outlandish, since it is apparent that no feasibility study was done to determine break even and reasonable profit positions. M&CC [The Mayor and City Council] has to provide some justifications of how the parking and other fees were derived,” the review had stated.At present, the price is set at $50, plus Value Added Tax (VAT), for 15 minutes. This means that motorists will be charged $200 for every hour spent parked. At present, the least amount of time which can be purchased is 15 minutes.SCSI Public Relations Consultant Kit NascimentoOn Sunday, in response to queries from Guyana Times about the feasibility study, SCSI Public Relations Consultant Kit Nascimento emphasised that the feasibility study was in the possession of the M&CC. He acknowledged, however, that it has never been made public.Other concernsMeanwhile, Duncan raised other concerns about the project, such as the visit to Panama by Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase Green, Town Clerk Royston King and Councillors Junior Garrett and Oscar Clark. This visit, which took place months after the contract was signed, was reportedly to perform due diligence checks on the meters already installed in the country.The Deputy Mayor also pointed out that the machines installed were seventh generation Estrada machines, noting that they were not as state-of-the-art as the Parkeon’s 2016 model.“Why are we settling for outdated technology if we must have meters?” the Deputy Mayor queried in his statement. “Everything I have heard, read, researched, and know of this project says we are on the wrong side of history to implement it. More so because of the economic impact, to say nothing of the roll-out, Georgetown is not ready for parking meters.”Nascimento acknowledged that an upgrade was necessary, but stated that the technology being installed were the best compatible with Guyana. He also noted that they were in use in many other countries.“Given the Internet and how it functions in this country, we’re using the most modern technology we can at this point of time. And the technology we’re using now happens to be in use in a very large number of other countries. We will upgrade the technology at the appropriate (time) that Guyana allows.”How it worksThe meters work by the user inputting the number of their parking space, the time they need and then a prepaid card which they would have purchased, to a card reader on the meters. Metered hours are Monday to Saturday, 07:00h to 19:00h (7am to 7pm).Any vehicle which has neither paid for parking or has exceeded the paid time would have a wheel incapacitated by a tyre booting device. This can be done whether the vehicle owner is present or not.If the owner is not there, she or he will be greeted by the sight of the incapacitated vehicle and a sticker on the driver’s window upon their return. In cases whereby the parked vehicle may obstruct the flow of traffic, they may return to an empty space as the vehicle would be immediately towed.A fine of $8000 plus VAT will have to be paid in order to unlock the vehicle. If the fine is not paid within two hours, the vehicle will be towed to an impound lot. The fine would then be $12,000 plus any VAT applicable.Already, parking meters have been installed around Georgetown, including in front of the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre and the Bishops High School. This has attracted much criticism from the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and the National Disability Commission.SCSI has since agreed to meet with representatives from the group.