Public rage in Georgetown continues to grow and expand as last Thursday’s massive demonstration shows, even as the Government has finally been forced to intervene in the parking meter fiasco. But it is too little too late. Boat gone a’ fall. The demand is now for the rescinding of the flawed agreement between the City Council and SCS.
The Government faltered when it allowed the City Council to proceed with the parking meter secret project, with charges that were outrageously high – 37 percent of the average monthly salary in Guyana as compared with a high of 13 percent of the monthly salary in the US. After the meeting between the Government and the City Council, the Government did not call for the release of the secret agreement. That is a telling omission.
Last Monday General Secretary of the PPP, Mr. Clement Rohee, reacting at his press conference to questions about that morning’s SN’s headline “PPP executives jockeying for top position – Jagdeo, others seeking to consolidate support before crucial congress,” deemed the media as “stray dogs, going by the smell of things and rummaging the PPP neighbourhood for new and old juicy inaccuracies and speculations.” The article in SN and the questions from the media obviously touched a raw nerve.
It would be unprecedented for a PPP Congress to be postponed except if an issue of national importance gets in the way. For example, Congress was not held in 2011 because of elections year, nor in 2012 because the PPP’s minority government was under siege. There might have been other cases in the past but there have been no postponements of Congress for purely internal reasons.
The City Council announced last week that it would take the traffic situation in hand. It is unlikely that the City Council would have known that funds would be allocated in the budget for this purpose. After disastrous past experiences, the City Council should not be allowed to preside over parking arrangements for mini bus and taxi parks in the city. The Municipal and District Councils Act gives it no such power. It is a Police function, which appears to have been abandoned, as the City Council assumed jurisdiction.
Starting from the core area outside Stabroek market, occupied by the yellow Motor Transport buses between the 1950s and 1970s, mini bus and taxi parks expanded. Between Avenue of the Republic and Water Street they occupied from Hadfield Street to Regent Street, from the National Assembly to the Bank of Baroda with the bulk in the Stabroek Market/Demico House and the Regent Street/Commerce Street areas. About ten years ago the City Council decided to further expand these areas for use by mini buses and taxis.
‘Arrogance and complacency cost the PPP last year’s elections,’ screamed the headline in Stabroek News of January 1, reporting on the year-end press conference of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, now Leader of the Opposition. He is reported to have said that ‘there was a severe disconnect between the party and its supporters on the ground’ resulting in APNU and AFC ‘gaining footholds among PPP supporters.’ He attributed this to the PPP’s complacency and arrogance and vowed to work hard to strengthen the party by going ‘house to house to people right across this country and rebuilding a connection between them and the party.’ Mr. Jagdeo spoke about the youth being enticed by the coalition because they lacked knowledge of the PNC’s past and the need for the party to work ‘vigorously to incubate a new generation of youthful leaders.’
The single-minded support by Mr. Jagdeo of Mr. Donald Ramotar as the presidential candidate in 2011 was one of the worst displays of contempt and political arrogance in Guyana’s political history. The compelling obsession to continue to exercise governmental authority and control was the sole motivating factor. The PPP leadership, in thrall to Mr. Jagdeo, mistakenly felt that its supporters would accept anything thrown at them.
The selection of Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo by the Central Committee of the PPP as its nominee for Opposition Leader seals that party’s fate in opposition for decades to come, unless the APNU+AFC coalition underperforms or unravels. The PPP has been shattered by defeat, its leadership disgraced by corruption and it has lost the sympathy of the international community through abuse, corruption and the refusal to hold local government elections.
With no intention by the ruling clique of giving up power, the return of its younger MPs and a sprinkling of new faces to Parliament, would be mere window dressing. This new generation of leaders stands no chance of influencing policy to rebuild the PPP or unite the country. The recently expressed views by Dr. Vindhi Persaud as to the way forward for the PPP in her recently published email and its rejection symbolise the impotence that this group will face.