Feb 10, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon


I supported Mayor Hamilton Green when he announced about five years ago that the PPP Government did not approve of parking meters in the city. That was in one of my columns. Never in my imagination could I have conceived of the parking meter arrangement that sections of the society are currently rejecting.
Look at the present situation; the AFC, a party that is in government wants the present shape of the implementation to cease and through presidential intervention, there will be a price reduction. Where were the AFC and President Granger when the formidable defects of the contract were being talked about daily by Georgetowners and that were carried in the press?
Why these two developments now? Because there were protests, cries and howls. In other words there was a fight and the State intervened. Why did the State have to intervene after protest came about? Why the AFC and President Granger couldn’t see that this thing was flawed from the beginning and therefore the State should have acted as a mollifying agent? Is it only when people take to the letter pages of the newspapers, Social Media and the streets with their placards that fairness, democracy, justice and freedom are allowed to exist?
It just goes to show how intellectually and politically limited is the leadership of Guyana since Independence. One cannot help but be harsh on this intellectual limitation because the commonsense that must inhere in sensible governance is lacking. The contract should have been studied by the Cabinet since it became a hot topic six months ago. But this is not the whole picture about the way leadership in this country behaves.
The very contract was in fact reviewed by the Attorney-General chambers and the conclusion was harsh. One would have expected after the AG’s evaluation, the AFC which suddenly found its voice, and the President as the leader of the government would have set as a requirement for implementation, a deletion of the draconian aspects of the contract, replaced by more realistic adjustments based on the Guyanese economy.
Nothing like that happened. The AG’s review did not result in the project being delayed. It came on stream and we now know what followed after that.
In fact, this column is not about the parking meter system. I merely used it as an example of the nature of political culture and the stultified thinking of Guyana’s leadership. Is there any Guyanese out there who believe that after the parking meter controversy, the government would learn the lessons and faced with similar situations in the future would act rationally? Yesterday, I saw about twelve weed cutters on the Railway Embankment from the Sherriff Street junction going east, trimming the grassy parapets.
Because there were so many of operators, stones and pieces of bottles were flying in the skies as if it was Easter Day kite flying on the seawall. Debris and pieces of bricks were hitting drivers’ vehicles. Thank God, no school child was hit in the eye by a flying object and lost his/her sight. But that is a strong possibility if you continue to put so many cutters at the same time in one particular area.
One hopes that no person ever loses his sight because of that, but should it happen then you will see government’s intervention. There will be strict guidelines as to the type of covers the machines should carry. That is the kind of leadership we have had for a long time in this country.
Make no mistake; just how we are seeing intervention on the parking meter thing, we will see similar action from the State on issues only when Guyanese take to the streets with their placards. In other words, unless you fight for your rights and you protest against violations, the State responds with a generous hand. It is really a sad reflection of 50 years of Independence. I could just rattle off my head dozens of situations of boiling cauldrons but only when the hot water burns the nation, we will see the hand of the State.
Yesterday, there was another picket in front of the City Hall. I was there. The numbers were larger this time. I am getting older and older and should leave the world of protest behind me to spend more time with my family and pets. But in Guyana if you do not protest, you will not get justice and liberty. So for me I guess I will continue to hold the placard in the street until I die.