Parking meter controversy continuesIn light of the announcement of a new Director to spearhead the controversial Parking Meter Project, theManaging Director of Smart City Solutions Ifa Kamau Cushman who identified himself as the Managing Director of Smart City Solutions (SCS), the company contracted to execute the project, Ifa Kamau Cush, is claiming that he is not aware of the change.Public Relations Consultant for Smart City Solutions (SCS), Kit Nascimento, has indicated that Amir Oren, who is an International Director of Business Development, is now the major investor representing a consortium that has taken over SCS and would be spearheading the project.However, when contacted on Thursday, Cush indicated that he is not aware of this development, directing Guyana Times to seek further clarification on the matter from the person who divulged the information.But Nascimento explained that late last year, the Council formalised an agreement with National Parking Systems (NPS), which was operated by Cush. He noted that NPS introduced the Council an “international consortium with extensive experience, finances and the know-how”.The consortium, the company consultant added, includes several companies from Mexico, Peru and Panama and that the Council entered into an expanded contract allowing the consortium to establish a special purpose company, which is Smart City Solutions Inc in Guyana to take over the project. SCS in turn absorbed NPS.However, up until recently, Cush was presented as the Director of SCS and the public was not aware of a second contract being signed by the Council concerning the parking meter system.But Nascimento explained that the initial contract was “very old” and has been taken over by the SCS. Notably, he dodged questions about whether Cush has been replaced or whether it was Cush who approachedConsultant Kit NascimentoOren to set up the company.“Cush is a shareholder. His position is not operational,” he said.When the Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green was contacted to provide clarity on the issue, she refused to comment, only saying that all questions should be directed to Nascimento.Over the past few months, the parking meter contract has come under fire from all ends but the Government has assured that they have found nothing illegal in the contract which was signed with Smart City Solutions Inc.When the contract was signed in June for its implementation throughout Georgetown, many persons were alarmed about the lack of transparency in the deal, with some saying that it appears to be a shady one aimed at exploiting the local populace.Despite this, Smart City Solutions Inc had gone ahead and conducted demonstration exercises on how the parking meter works throughout the city. Persons were also seen conducting assessments on various streets in the city.Government had ordered a review of the contract between Smart City Solutions and the Georgetown Mayor and Council (M&CC) following rising apprehension about the project’s transparency.The review was conducted by Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams and it was later disclosed that there were no illegalities found.The sum total of the finding was that (a) there was nothing illegal about the contract and it appeared that from a review of the documents that the terms and conditions of the contract were onerous and heavily in favour of the concessionaire,” Minister of State Joseph Harmon had indicated.He assured that recommendations were made to ensure that Guyanese are not ripped off.The project was slated for roll out this month.However, Transparency Guyana (TIGI) has opined that the deal is shrouded in unaccountability and ambiguity. TIGI contended that there was no open tendering for the project while there was “handpicking” of a contractor and Councillors to conduct due diligence in Mexico.
Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.Download Audio2015 Permanent Fund Dividend is $2,072Josh Edge, APRN-AnchorageA record-breaking Permanent Fund Dividend was announced Monday, not from the Governor, but instead from 12-year-old student, because, according to Governor Bill Walker, the fund is really about the next generation. Shania Sommer, a 7th grader at Palmer Junior Middle School, is involved in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering program.Alaska Senators sponsor legislation to repeal “Cadillac” taxAnnie Feidt, APRN-AnchorageAlaska’s two U. S. Senators are co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the so-called Cadillac tax, which will impact high priced employer health plans starting in 2018. Because health care is so expensive in Alaska, the tax will have a disproportionate impact in the state.Hearings start on fighter jets coming to EielsonDan Bross, KUAC-FairbanksLocal hearings are happening this week on the planned basing of 54 F-35 fighter jets at Eielson Air Force Base. The sessions, in North Pole, Delta and Fairbanks, provide opportunity to comment on a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the basing plan.Washington opens criminal investigation into walrus deathsThe Associated PressThe federal government has opened a criminal investigation into the death of 25 Pacific walrus found on an isolated northwest Alaska beach. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Crystal Leonetti says agency investigators have not returned from the site at Cape Lisburne but that the case is now in the hands of the U.S. Attorney office. Initial reports last week said the walrus had been shot but the Fish and Wildlife Service refused to speculate on the cause of death until agency personnel had examined the carcasses.Starfish losing arms to diseaseJohn Ryan, KUCB-UnalaskaStarfish from Mexico to Alaska have been hammered by a wasting disease that causes their arms to melt and fall off. Sea stars in the Aleutian Islands have not been affected yet.Newtok feeling nervous about relocation timelineCharles Enoch, KYUK-BethelCharles Residents in the small coastal village of Newtok in Southwest Alaska have been preparing to move as erosion eats away at their village. A dispute over who has tribal authority slowed the process, but now that dispute has been decided by federal courts, a new set of tribal officials are getting the relocation effort underway again. But with climate change accelerating the erosion many are getting anxious that the move can’t happen soon enough.Tribal housing gets HUD grants to fight moldLori Townsend, APRN-AnchorageTribal housing in Alaska will benefit from more than $1 million in grants to address concerns over mold. An announcement was made announced by Housing and Urban Development or HUD. The $1.6 million in grants were awarded to three tribal entities in the state specifically for mold remediation or prevention in more than 200 tribal homes through improved windows, doors and exteriors.UAS to offer marine transportation degree programLisa Phu, KTOO-JuneauStudents and mariners will soon be able to get formal marine transportation education without leaving the state. The University of Alaska Board of Regents last week approved a new marine transportation degree program at the University of Alaska Southeast.UAA engineering program attracting more Native studentsDaysha Eaton, KYUK-BethelAs college freshmen dig into their studies at the state’s universities this fall, more Native faces are appearing in science and engineering classrooms. That’s thanks to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP. Yup’ik students from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta are among them.