Minibus drivers are usually under financial pressure

Dear Editor,

While I agree with the overdue criticisms levelled against the general unlawful and discourteous behaviour of mini-bus drivers and conductors, I am inclined to examine a cause-effect relationship for this type of behaviour. The “Taste of Fear” cartoon in SN on Monday Nov-ember 5 aptly captures, in my mind, a major motivating factor influencing speeding. As the bus driver in the cartoon is about to get into his bus to begin his day’s work, he is reminded to buy “pressure pills” and that “de baby need pampers”. Added to these reasons, many bus drivers and conductors have to fulfil an obligation to offer a certain daily amount of money to bus owners. If a bus owner demands $10,000 on a daily basis, then the bus driver and conductor need to make enough money for themselves and the owner.

Many bus drivers, for these reasons, will try to make as many trips as possible in a day. And what makes it easier than speeding? A lot of conductors “squeeze” additional passengers for the same reasons: financial obligation. In many cases it is not an issue of getting rich, but one of comfortable survival. So why apportion most of the blame at the feet of bus drivers and conductors when they are merely responding to the demands of the “system”?

More attention should be paid to passengers and pedestrians. Many bus drivers and conductors will tell you that passengers are the ones who demand music. Many school children enjoy the thrill of loud music, speeding, and “doubling-up”. Music is a major marketing tool employed by bus drivers and conductors. They give the people what they want.

Do not get me wrong: I am, in no way, in favour of the bus drivers’ and conductors’ behaviour. I am in full support of any attempt to promote lawful behaviour. Every society needs the rule of law.

But how effective is the “zero-tolerance” campaign? How long will it last? And who stands to benefit? One of the protestors on the Corentyne remarked it is now better to bribe a police officer than pay the fine. Police officers, I dare to say, will benefit even more from this system. After travelling in a minibus to Linden last week, I realised that buses will only slow down in the vicinity of police officers to avoid detection of the ‘speed-gun’. Bus operators have a unique warning system of signalling each other about the officers’ presence. Speeding will continue, but just not under the detection of police officers.

Laws are not effective in isolation. Behaviour change can be effected through proper socialisation through fundamental educational institutions… The Traffic Code booklet has several pages dedicated to the education of pedestrians on the proper use of the road-ways. But how many pedestrians, especially our next generation, have been enlightened on the rules contained within that booklet?

Will these rules allow people to become more lawful or will they foster an appearance of being lawful? Only time will tell.

Yours faithfully,

Kencil Banwarie

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