By Mario Joseph
A new parking system is in place for route 41, 45 and 46 minibus operators at the Stabroek Market Square but compliance remains a problem.
The system, implemented on Tuesday, was put in place to regularise the parking of the selected bus routes, following a decision by the Traffic Department of ‘A’ Division and the Ministry of Public Works.
Under the new the arrangements, three lanes are designated for route 45 (Main Street/Lamaha) buses, two lanes for route 41 (Guyhoc/South) buses and two lanes for route 46 (Stabroek/Lodge) buses. The lanes are demarcated by yellow lines drawn by police ranks and which are bordered by concrete blocks on the outskirts and steel barricades to guide entry and exit.
However, in the absence of vigilant traffic ranks willing to ensure compliance, the new system has not significantly impacted the operations of ‘hot plate’ operators who solicit passengers from no parking areas, disorderly parking and touting at the bus park.
During a visit to the location yesterday afternoon, Stabroek News witnessed several route 41 buses parking on the outside of the park, halfway in the park and some at the very front with lots of space in between.
After about 40 minutes of observing several buses being filled throughout the line and outside the parking lot, a police officer came on the scene. Stabroek News asked the officer about the new system and the behaviour of the operators. The officer quickly started reprimanding the offending drivers and even called for back up. Two officers started rounding up the buses to complete the line all the way to the front, thereby creating some order.
Afterward, the officer, who asked not to be named, said, “The system is good but people are doing their own thing, which causes this confusion.” He said it would continue in such a manner until operators become au fait with the new order.
Traffic Chief, Superintendent Hugh Denhert, told Stabroek News that the new lane system is a very good system to facilitate sufficient parking, at the very least, whether or not a turn system can be established. He added that the system is sufficient enough to instill some order and a police presence will be there to ensure that. When questioned as to the exact time a traffic rank will be designated to remain in the lot, Denhert said, “The system is there for people to make good use of it, to facilitate a smooth operation. If it requires the permanent presence of a police officer for the people to comply, then what does that say of our society?”
Many drivers expressed their discontent with the system because of abuses by errant drivers. Others were more positive about the parking arrangement. The complaints primarily came from drivers of the 41 route, where many operators flouted the arrangement. The major complaint that came from route 46 operators was about the touts who block their buses, curse them and even pelt objects at the buses to prevent passengers from entering. The operators also said that there only needs to be one lane for them because not many buses ply the route. The additional lane, they said, facilitates “cheating” the line system. The operators from the 45 route said that the system isn’t really new to them because they have been doing the same thing for quite some time, with the exception of a few buses that park at the front of the line to solicit passengers. Apart from the latter, they seemed content with the arrangement.
Commuters from each bus route who spoke to Stabroek News were unanimously appreciative of the system but requested that there be a street light erected in the park to prevent robberies since they have little faith in the police outpost present a few metres away.