Eon Andrews, President of the United Minibus Union, yesterday declared that statements made by Minister of Tourism, Manniram Prashad, on Tuesday last are completely untrue.
According to a press statement, the union was informed that the minister had been on the radio on March 29, claiming that he had a meeting with the union where an agreement was made to have minibus fares remain the same. He had further stated that only some drivers were maintaining the new fares. It was reported that this misleading information was rebroadcast several times on the said day.
The union said no meeting was held since the new fare structure was introduced on March 21. Moreover, the union has not met the minister for the year, the statement said.
According to Andrews, Prashad had publicly stated that the union did not exist and so it came as a shock when the minister said he had met with the said union.
Commuters are advised that the new fares stand and are asked to not be deceived, the statement said.
The union said it will go public if and when it meets any government official with regard to the new fare structure.
Meanwhile, a meeting was held among the union and bus operators last evening at the Transport House.
Andrews, addressing the attendees, declared that the issue is not about the fare increase but about the culture of the sector, and the fact that it was not a good move for the government to be at war with the sector.
He added that prices are being increased everywhere but yet only the private transportation sector was being harassed. “Bakewell raise… they ain’t saying nothing… Pearl ain’t raise but she making she bread smaller… they ain’t saying nothing,” Andrews stated.
Bus operators were given the opportunity to voice their concerns, most of which were based on the negative feedback from commuters.
A simple solution suggested by the union was to have fares paid before commencement of journeys.
Operators were also vocal on respect. One bus driver said he is aware that respect has to be given in order for it to be received.
He advised the others, if “you don’t get them to their destination… give them back them money. That’s the only way they’ll respect you.”
“The government is not our enemy, the police is not our enemy, we are our own enemy,” Andrews said.
He assured members of his union that they have his full support in this endeavor but they in return must unite in order to maintain their rights.