Minibus operators and taxi drivers who were displaced from Stabroek Square as a result of the clean-up of the area say they are clueless about their future even as the city says it is looking at their situation.
The removal of the minibuses, in particular, has clogged up other busy thoroughfares in the city such as Croal Street, South Road and Avenue of the Republic, leading to further traffic chaos.
Operators complained to Stabroek News on Wednesday that they had not received any word from the City Council about where they were to be accommodated. Public Relations Officer Debra Lewis told Stabroek News in response that the city is looking at the situation and for a permanent solution.
Taxi drivers who used to be next to the Kitty/Campbellville Bus Park on Croal Street are now operating at the western side of Demico House. Other taxi drivers are operating near the billboard at the front of the Stabroek Market.
Since the city rolled out its massive clean-up campaign for Stabroek Square, the minibus parks for routes 45 (Main St-Lamaha), 46 (Stabroek-Lodge) and 41 (Guyhoc-South) have been relocated temporarily to Avenue of the Republic and drivers are uncertain about what happens next. Even as uncertainty lingers in their minds, drivers are pushing to earn and are still operating in the areas close to the market square.
Taxi drivers told Stabroek News that while they are comfortable with the changes they are waiting on the city to meet them. They said although vendors from the Stabroek Square were told to remove, the council never issued any instruction to them.
Terry Singh, a minibus driver of the Route 45 Park said he is not comfortable with the new style of operations. He explained that although drivers are in a line working towards a smooth operation, there are others who would operate outside of the line and create confusion.
Singh complained of being in the line for over an hour and a half in order to have his bus filled with passengers. He pointed out that the length of time is because other operators from the same route would behave delinquently.
Stabroek News observed that the buses from the said routes would go straight up to the market and pick up passengers. Singh, however, said that he does not mind operating opposite the Kitty/Campbellville bus park once there is order and understanding among the drivers.
Another driver from the same route, Madray (only name given), said that the city officials should have set up a park before they moved the minibuses. He said the city administration’s lack of planning and implementation has resulted in congested traffic along Avenue of the Republic. He complained of having to be in the traffic for a lengthy period before returning to the park. He opined that constabulary officers should have been placed in the vicinity of the parks to maintain order.
Despite complaints from the bus operators, another driver, Persaud (only name), said he is comfortable with the new operation. “It is working ok…in 10… 15 minutes the bus is filled, early morning in five minutes the bus is filled” he said.
Over at the 41, 45 and 46 bus park on the Avenue of the Republic, drivers said the area is too small for them to operate. Stabroek News gathered that over a hundred bus drivers operate at the park daily. The drivers told this newspaper, that the traffic has been congested since they moved.
Orlando Daniels, one of the drivers from the 41, 45 and 46 bus park said that he does not mind operating at the current park once there is order. He added that it is very dangerous for passengers having to cross the road especially when large vehicles are using the road. Passengers who were also in the vicinity of the parks said there needs to be order.
Dwayne Scott, a taxi driver said that while he welcomed the move to organise and create a clean environment they are prevented from working. Scott pointed out that they were asked to assist in cleaning the area but they were never told they would be removed from where they would operate. He said that in previous times the city would have a meeting with drivers and the plans would be discussed but that did not happen this time. He said that some drivers stayed away from operating because of the uncertainty. He added that they need to operate because they have families to maintain and mortgages to pay.
M. Mannings, another taxi driver, said that the new system is troublesome and called on city officials to find a quick solution.
Jagdeo (only name given) said there should have been a better arrangement for the drivers in the area. He said “right now we are squatting on the outskirts here (referring to the public road that runs between Stabroek Square and Demico) because we have families to mind and installments to pay.”
The driver also echoed complaints about the traffic congestion. He believes that 75% of the traffic congestion experienced in the town resulted from the confusion at the Stabroek Square.