The United Minibus Union (UMU) has agreed to propose to its members, the adoption of a draft Code of Conduct for minibus operators countrywide, according to a press release yesterday from the Ministry of Business.
Representatives of the Union and several associations met on Wednesday with Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, to discuss aspects of the proposed code as well as concerns voiced by consumers on the daily operation of minibuses. The release said that Gaskin told the bus operators that it is important for the union, police and government to work together on matters related to the mini bus operations in the country.
Highlighting grievances expressed by consumers, Muriel Tinnis, Director of the Consumer Affairs Department within the Ministry of Business, told the minibus operators that there continue to be complaints about speeding, touting and overloading of buses. She added, according to the release, that one of the major complaints received, was that of overcharging, particularly within routes. There were also complaints that operators for certain routes, charge passengers a higher fare at nights.
In reply, Eon Andrews, President of the United Mini Bus Union, said many of the concerns voiced by consumers are justified. The release said that he was optimistic that the Code of Conduct will address the issue of touting and overloading.
The release said that the concept of a code of conduct was also supported by Dennis Chesney, President of the Berbice River Branch Mini Bus Owners Association. Chesney said his union has already implemented some aspects of the code and he hopes all operators will follow suit.
Superintendent Dennis Stephens, Deputy Traffic Chief, also attended the meeting. The release said that he stressed that the problem of touting persists because minibus drivers and conductors encourage it. He urged the operators to utilize the model used by the Berbice Association, which he said, has been very effective.
The release said that the Code of Conduct encompasses issues such as customer service, health and safety, licensing and compliance and the general operation of buses. The union will discuss the draft of the Code of Conduct presented by the Ministry with its membership and sign on once there is consensus.
Meanwhile the Consumer Affairs Department is working on an implementation plan for the code.