Irfaan Ali is on the mark as far as Caribbean Airlines is concerned

Dear Editor,

The recent statements by Minister Ali on Caribbean Air and the outrageous prices to fly on that airline, not to mention the lousy service and ridiculous lay-overs in Trinidad, show the kind of mettle we need in governance. As Tourism Minister, Mr Irfaan Ali is right on the mark as far as this airline is concerned, and it’s high time that President Ramotar demands better performance from quite a few ministers who should emulate Minister Ali.

Caribbean Airlines keeps Guyanese on their airplanes while they re-fuel in Trinidad  or they lead us on a merry-go-round in the Piarco terminal that is insane, and Guyanese deserve better. Caribbean Airlines’ planes are always full of passengers, especially Guyanese passengers and yet, the service is poor ‒ most times, no blankets and no pillows while the temperature is really cold and meals are a joke. Guyanese deserve better.

This airline is now charging passengers US$175 to change flights when it used to be $50. We deserve better. If one books two months in advance, one has 24 hours (when it should be longer) to pay up or lose the flight, and guess what, if that travel agent who sold you the ticket doesn’t collect on time, then that agent has to pay the airline US$20 ‒ imagine that! We deserve better. Reliable sources in New York have told me that travel agents are taking  a serious loss in income when they sell CAL tickets because the 6% they got before is now reduced to 3%. Guyanese will pay a price for this, and we deserve better. Soon, it is rumoured, Caribbean Airlines will be allowing only one suitcase per passenger and an extra one will cost as much as US$150 ‒ we really deserve better ‒ are we not supposed to be in Caricom?

Editor, from the above observations, it seems that Caribbean Airlines is making a lot of money on our shoulders and Minister Ali should make them do better for us, especially with the extremely high fares which are levied on our people in particular.

The answer to our problems is to Americanize our whole airline industry. Why are the Chinese building our airport and runway when the biggest and best airlines and airports are in the USA. We are involving Chinese investment in many parts of our economy but in the air transport business the Americans are the best, and furthermore, most of our people live in North America and need decent and reasonably priced seats to visit Guyana.

Editor, as a member of the PPP/Civic list in the last elections, I have been observing the performance of most of the ministers and I can tell you, within the credo of ‘critical support,’ I take heart in the decisions of the President of Suriname who announced that he will fire ministers, and I take heart in PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s firing of ministers over the past years.  I hope that President Ramotar will follow course and fire some of those in this government who are not performing to the betterment of the Guyanese people.

In housing and water, Minister Ally has performed pretty well, and the results are clear for everyone to see ‒ there are no allegations of racial policies in the allocation of houselots, and many areas are slowly developing into meaningful communities, while the water situation has improved. None of the ministers is showing the progress this minister has managed, and his production of the building expo is a novelty Guyana needs. I wish him success in spreading this expo to all parts of Guyana; Minister Ali will bring votes to the PPP.

However, the good works by this minister are undermined by Minister Benn’s failures to place decent roads in the new communities, a common denominator in the Minister’s outlook on our roads in general ‒ just go down the West Coast highway and see the condition of that road and then go to Parika and turn left and what one sees is the road just torn apart, just as in many other areas in our country.

As Minister of Tourism, Mr Ali is again speaking out and getting things done, but how can we have a good tourism sector when our airport road is in such a mess ‒ enter Minister Benn again. The new ferries across the Essequibo can only run at high tide, so, for instance, two Sundays ago, a ferry left Supenaam at 9pm for Parika. These ferries run at limited times a day, so why did we get them when they will interfere with tourism and local travel to Essequibo ‒ enter the Ministry of Works again. And don’t even talk of Georgetown which he obviously doesn’t care much for, the list on Minister Benn’s poor performance can go on to sea defence, river safety and road safety.

Mr Ramotar needs to emulate the Trinidad and Surinamese leaders by firing non-performing ministers to bring a sense of change and hope to the Guyanese people, and most importantly, Mr Ramotar has to show leadership in holding his ministers to the highest standards of service to the Guyanese nation.

Yours faithfully,
Cheddi (Joey) Jagan (Jr)

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