As a regular traveller on the East Coast corridor, I find it amazing that certain minibus operators are seeking a 20% fare hike. If such a demand be granted that would be an unfair decision to the rest of the work force. It is well known that over the past several years that a rise was granted in the vicinity of three to ten per cent. A demand of twenty per cent is both immoral and unreasonable. Our economy cannot sustain such a shock. What would happen to the travelling public? Could they get a twenty per cent increase from their employers to cushion this barbaric demand?
On the other side of the consideration, we should take a closer look at the so-called grievances. The minibus operators allege that they collect about twenty thousand dollars for the day and spend around twelve thousand dollars for gas. That may be true, but there are some omissions these operators have not mentioned. It is said that the official fare from GT to Plaisance is eighty dollars. But these operators collect one hundred dollars from commuters for the distance. They are over-charging hard-working people and taking their hard-earned money. Those who over-charge should be entrapped, charged and prosecuted in a court of law. Next, at the end of the day when these minibus drivers say that they have made twenty thousand, they do not include the free drops that they have given to their friends and family. Most conductors who wish to impress females for obvious reasons, allow them to traverse up and down the East Coast corridor free of cost. Why should the paying public foot the bill of the free-loaders? Another thing that qualifies for an investigation is these operators’ eating habits. They are not known to walk with food from home. They spend lavishly on meals and drinks so that they can impress their fellow workers and the public that they are eating well. Should the poor, who need to travel every day pay for this lavish lifestyle? Of note also, some of them are under the influence of alcohol due to the consumption of beer. If it were not for these derelictions, their daily intake could be much higher. The money wasted could be in the range of five to ten thousand dollars a day.
The operators are in competition with each other as to whose bus is more fancy. They put on magnum rims, and the broader tyres cause the engine to consume more gas. Should the passengers pay for the extra gas? Overloading the bus also increases the amount of gas needed to transport the vehicle. It is unprofitable to overload a vehicle transporting passengers. The added wear and tear in dollars and cents is beyond the extra one hundred dollars collected. Most of the buses have hidden expensive music systems. Must the commuters pay for the entertainment of the drivers?
Lately I was in the vicinity of Bourda Market and overheard an old man complaining about the behaviour of some South Ruimveldt bus operators. He was heading to somewhere on Mandela Avenue, but they were refusing to take him because they said they were taking only South Ruimveldt residents. In reasoning with one driver he was heard saying that the authorities should pull their road service licences. They are not allowed to serve only residents who live at the end of their route, but also those wishing to stop at any point along the route. Plain clothes police officers should seek the services of these unscrupulous drivers, and when denied the services, arrest, detain, charge and prosecute the errant operators in a court of law.