Speedboat service from Parika to Supenaam is poor

Dear Editor,

On Monday, January 9 around 9.15am my in-law and I were going to Supenaam, but the Bowman of the boat loading with passengers said the Captain had instructed him not to allow us on the boat. When I asked him why, he said he didn’t know. Because the boats work with a turn system, we had to wait until that boat finished loading to hopefully catch the next boat. We spoke to the monitor, but she said that if the Captain didn’t want us on the boat then there’s nothing she could do. I asked her for the reasons you could be denied boarding, and she said if you are drunk, behaving disorderly or mentally disturbed, none of which we were.

I then explained that recently whilst coming back from Supenaam one afternoon the monitor stopped working but boats still loaded, and then they don’t work with turn system. Then passengers are at their mercy with their tug-of-war. We were in the same boat that is presently refusing us, but my in-law knew the guys on one of the other boats so we exited that boat and joined the other one. The Captain was now seeing a chance to get back at us for exiting his boat the time before. Other than that it’s because it’s the same boat that I wrote about recently which started swaying dangerously whilst we were travelling. The monitor said she recalled the incident because she had to write a report. I’ve already made up my mind not to travel with the boat if the situation changes, because if someone is providing a service to the public and bears you malice, then they are not to be trusted.

Editor, if someone is providing a service to the public they should be able to face criticism or be professional enough to deal with any issue, because if there wasn’t a turn system, there are lots of boats there with operators that people would choose not to travel with, but because of the system there isn’t a choice. Looking at the way the system operates, one could come to the conclusion that either the monitors are in cahoots with the operators, or the operators are bullying the monitors, because even though a boat has the number of passengers written on it, many of them continue to overload.

In December whilst going to Supenaam, the boat I was in experienced mechanical problems and the engine shut off. The boat was left adrift until another boat came which we joined. Incidentally the water was calm and thus we didn’t encounter any difficulties.  Coming back from Supenaam on January 9 around 4.05pm, five passengers were forced to sit in one seat and everyone was complaining. The boat pulled off and at the mouth of the river the operator stopped the vessel and started fixing the other engine, whilst we drifted for over five minutes aimlessly. Finally they got the other engine to work but in order for it to drive the Bowman had to control that engine whilst the Captain controlled the other. The water was rough and because the two engines weren’t properly synchronized and the Captain and the Bowman couldn’t communicate properly, the passengers were treated to a lot of heavy jarring and a bone-jerking ride when the boat hit a wave. Added to that, the sponge was only around half an inch thick, and it was like sitting on board. If the boat had been still moored at the Supenaam stelling, I am quite sure some of the passengers would have disembarked when they started fixing the engines.

On many trips between Supenaam and Parika the boat would experience some sort of problem and those in authority are not notified because most of the passengers don’t have the time to report it or the monitor cannot be found. Based on my experience above, I would assume that if one objected to the behaviour or performance of the operator he/she would be victimized by some of the operators.

Finally Editor, on the Georgetown-Vreed-en-Hoop route, the speedboats started charging $200 on Sundays instead of the normal $100, saying that their boat is not waiting to get the full load – which was true.  Eventually the boats started increasing the passengers they carried until they are now waiting to be full and are still charging the same $200. They now say that it’s Sunday and the price is double. On Christmas Eve around 7.15pm whilst going on the boat heading to Georgetown, the Bowman said that the fare was $500. All the boats there were charging the same money and you have to wait for them to be either full or near full. I along with others desirous of crossing started complaining bitterly, and we had to use the alternative method, the bus.

There are authorities which are supposed to be there to monitor these operators, but sadly most of the time they are not around when it matters. Speedboats leave Supenaam at night, even though they are not supposed to. But who is checking? You would only hear when an incident occurs. There are too many speedboats and on some routes, the boats would rotate, resting one day. Since the service is very poor, many people are desirous of starting their own service, but  the current owners form a monopoly and they are preventing passengers from getting a better service whilst they choose not to upgrade their own service.

Yours faithfully,

Sahadeo Bates

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