West Coast Berbice bus operators strike over fuel prices

Some of the striking bus drivers and others

Almost all of the bus operators on the  West Coast Berbice yesterday parked their buses along the market tarmac located in Bath in protest at the recent hike in fuel prices.

The around 100 bus operators stated yesterday that the hike in the fuel prices has affected their operations tremendously and as such they will be on strike until the prices are lowered or there is an increase in the fares paid by passengers.

According to Rawana Ally, bus driver, “The gas didn’t raise one time and remain there, the gas raise about three time already and it very expensive to run our bus, when we check it, it can’t pay”. The man said, “The government need to give us a break also”.

Parked buses

Garcia, a bus owner and conductress yesterday stated that either the bus fare should rise immediately or the fuel price should be lowered. “It is very hard on us”, she stressed.

According to the woman, her weekly take home money has seen a sizable decrease, “When you take out the money for gas and crossing and everything else, you na lef with much”, she explained. “Some days you left with $5,000 when you done pay for gas, then you got to pay the driver, pay yourself and maintain the vehicle”.

Since the fuel price began a steep rise several weeks ago in line with the international trend, the government has been mum on the matter. In the past, under the PPP/C government, the excise tax had been cut to lower fuel prices.  The APNU+AFC government has given no hint as to whether it will take any action.

Meanwhile, Region Five’s Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal yesterday stated that he is standing in solidarity with the bus operators. “The recent increase in gas would have taken tremendous financial burdens on the bus operators”.

According to Ramphal, the residents of Region Five are already financially strapped due to other issues, “… this will only place more financial burden on our people”.

 He further stressed, “It is my call on the current administration to address this issue as early as possible so the bus operators can continue with their daily trade and the people in Region Five can continue to do their business as per normal”.

Residents and schoolchildren were left stranded along the West Coast Berbice main road yesterday morning as almost every bus in the district was out of operation.

Meanwhile, parents also voiced their concerns that their children were left stranded along the road. “I think the government need to do something because children were left on the road this morning and I don’t agree with that”, one mother said.

The drivers who began the strike action yesterday morning insisted that they will continue until some immediate changes are made for their benefit.

Car and bus operators in Region Six have also been protesting the hike in fuel prices. On Friday last, hire car drivers held a protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Representative’s Office in Region Six calling for the authorities to take action. The Corentyne drivers had stressed that if nothing is done they will have no choice but to raise the fare for passengers.

Bus drivers in Georgetown and on the East Coast of Demerara have also taken strike action.



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