UG forges pact with short-drop taxi operators

The University of Guyana (UG) has reached an agreement with short-drop taxi drivers who offer transport from the East Coast Public Road to the Turkeyen Campus that will see only authorized operators being allowed to access the compound.

“…[T]hey have access, in a regulated manner, into the university compound to drop off students and staff using their service. It was mutually agreed that the price for the short drop into our compound will be $80. Appropriate stickers will be issued to each operator and they will now be uniformed,” an email issued to students on Friday explained.

The email, bearing the signature of Vanessa Vanlong, Assistant Registrar of Data and Records Management, also informed students that “only duly authorized taxis using the Public Road route would be allowed access into the compound.”

While UG has stated that these provisions will come into effect at an unspecified time during this month, students are divided on their suitability and the appropriateness of the manner in which the decision was made and communicated.

Jarryl Bryan, a first-year Communication Studies major, told Stabroek News that he found the announcement disturbing since there were no consultations with the persons who would be affected the most, the students.

Bryan, who opposes both the fare increase and the new access provisions, said that “for many students, UG is their first endeavour after secondary school. They are not working. Over time, this increase will add up. So, it is disturbing and denying access to other taxis will prove an unnecessary inconvenience for students who would have taken a taxi from a location other than the UG Public Road.”

He questioned how the university intends to enforce the rule barring unauthorized taxis and transportation and noted that this and other uncertainties could have been prevented by consultations with the student body.

Stabroek News reached out to the university’s Public Relations Officer Paulette Paul for clarification on the issue and was told that she was unaware of any such notice having been issued.

Attempts to contact Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith and Registrar Nigel Gravesande proved futile, while the UG Student Society (UGSS) President Ron Glasgow said he was not prepared to comment at this time.

However, a member of the UGSS, who wished not to be named, told Stabroek News that the society was not completely consulted on the matter.

Despite this, the executive seems divided on the issue, with some believing that the move to increase the fare was necessary and fair, given recent increases in gas prices, while others believe the move was hasty and needed more consultation.

“I can understand why they needed the $20 increase, and I also appreciate the way UG went about it. I think they gave sufficient notice to the students. I also support them finally firmly enforcing the unauthorised taxi rule. The campus is already congested with student vehicles. Can you imagine how it is when dozens of taxis are there blocking roadways? It’s a good move and now the drivers can even operate at a profit. Before, they only made $240 per drop, when if you took a taxi from there to campus, you’d pay $300. So it’s good for them. I’m happy about it,” the source said, while noting that the rule has always been for students to await unauthorized vehicles at the “pick up sign” located just beyond the area used to access buses.

However, medical student Christopher Martin France questioned not just the provisions but the need for an agreement in the first place. “One can argue that $20 isn’t a lot but considering these are students that $20 may actually be a big deal. For the most part, I’m not entirely sure why UG had to come to an agreement with the drivers to begin with. Aside from the uniforms and stickers, I see no way in which this agreement has changed anything as relates to the short drop taxis being available for students. Seems pointless for the most part in my opinion,” he told Stabroek News.

Speaking on the authorized access provision France argued that it was “incredibly ridiculous. Not everyone has the need for those short drop cars. I, personally, rarely use them. I believe I have used a short drop taxi maybe a total of 10 times in all my years at UG. I don’t get why such a measure is necessary. In fact, it seems unfair to students. Why should I be forced to have to use a service I do not want to? Or have my options limited to the point of personal discomfort?” he asked.

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