-Regional Officials call on car drivers to stop exploiting passengers
-Gazetted Order passed to carry full capacity in public transportation
Regional Officials of the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region, are calling on drivers plying the Mackenzie/Wismar and Linden/Georgetown route, to return the fare to the original amount of $100.00 and $1,000.00 respectively, as it is illegal to hike fares, particularly during a pandemic.
They are also reminding drivers that the Official Gazette of December 30th 2020, ordered, that public transportation can return to carrying the full capacity, under the circumstances that passengers wear a face mask correctly. The order states, “any person who provides public transportation within Guyana, whether by land, water or air, may carry the number of passengers which the motor vehicle is licensed to carry and shall comply with the measures under paragraph 12″.
On Monday, in an official statement, Regional Chairman Deron Adams, said that he noted hire car operators increased the fare, to accommodate a reduced number of passengers, in an attempt to practice social distancing. “……but now are authorized to carry their full complement of passengers. Our nurses, teachers, students and indeed all residents have borne these increased charges for many months now, and since the government has decided to allow public transportation providers to return their operations to normal, it is only fair that the transportation charges are returned to normal as well,” the statement said.
“As such, the Council urges those persons providing public transportation to return to the original transportation charges immediately. The Regional Democratic Council also urges all residents to continue to practice social distancing where possible, to wear a face mask correctly if this is not possible as well as to wash or sanitise your hands frequently while respecting all COVID 19 guidelines as established by the Ministry of Health,” it concluded.
In an invited comment, Mayor of Linden Waneka Arrindell, said that although public transportation does not fall under the ambit of the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LMTC), she has been engaging the relevant authorities to have to fare return to the original price. She dubbed the move to increase the fare as illegal and noted that such a move only occurred in Linden.
She has already reached out to the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce which has responsibility for public transportation, as well as the Minibus Association, for advice on the way forward. She reiterated that the hike in fares is illegal and is exploitative in every way. “In the first place, raising of the fares is illegal and it should return to the normal amount,” Arrindell said.
The Mayor recalled that in any situation where transportation is in demand, drivers in Linden, would use the opportunity to hike the fares. This was done in 2012, during the Linden struggle.
Over the recent months, particularly public servants and minimum wage workers have been complaining about the increased fare and have been calling on the authorities to make the necessary representation. One security guard in a letter to the Editor of INFO 10, she related, “My biggest challenge at the moment, is paying $800, 000 per day to get to work. This adds up to $19, 200 per month on transportation alone. This is more than half of my salary. I feel like no one is coming to the aid of those travelling daily with the cars, to make the necessary representation for us. This is very hard for persons who have to travel every day and have no other choice. Some days I have to walk a long distance from my work place to the boat landing, because I cannot afford to catch the car,” she said.