Travelling by minibus on the West Coast is a terrifying experience

Dear Editor,

Early one morning, on a rainy day, in this country, where every man does what is right in his or her own eyes, I took a mini-bus from Georgetown to Parika.

Every day I take the bus, I fear for my life and the life of other passengers because many of the bus drivers have bought their driver’s licence, which makes them a danger to passengers. Some of these drivers drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs. I have personally witnessed drivers imbibing alcohol and smoking weed while driving.

Some people call the road we were travelling on the West Coast Road, but I call it the Iraq Highways (Death Road) because countless people have died on it by accident every year. And yet, very little is done to prevent the accidents. This is the same road where two brothers were killed by a bus recently.

The driver that I’m travelling with is in his thirties. There is a poster in the bus with pictures of scantily dressed women and a man who looks like a thug with these words: “Out and bad.” I don’t know what the words mean. The music is very loud and annoying. So I put in my earplugs to reduce the deafening sound emanating from the speakers and to prevent my ears from going deaf.

What’s most important and disturbing about this experience is that no one sees anything wrong with the pictures and loud music, even though little girls and boys take this same bus to school daily. And what makes me even angrier is that the government and police force do nothing about these sickening photos and the deafening music.

What kind of country is this that would allow such pornographic images to saturate children’s mind and imagination? Shame on this government and the police force for allowing these despicable pictures on the young minds. So I call on the government to immediately provide government buses so that our children will not have to be exposed to such vulgar and obscene gestures of naked women. If the government doesn’t provide public transportation, it’s complicit and supports the vulgarity on the private buses.

I was sitting in the front seat of the bus, something that I never do unless I am riding with a safe   driver. This bus is for young people who don’t mind danger, speeding and loud music. Normally, I would not travel in this kind of bus, but I was in a hurry, and I wanted to write about the experience of travelling in a dangerous bus.

Even though it’s raining and the road is wet, the driver is going at a speed of 110 km/h. The speed limit is between 65 and 80 km/h. And although, this is the same road where countless people have died by accident every year, it doesn’t deter the driver from speeding. Every driver thinks that they are a good driver, and they’ll never get into an accident; “it’ll never happen to them,” they say.

Why they speed? They are driven by money and greed. No wonder so many people died on this road because, I didn’t see a single police officer on the road. You would think that with the rain falling, more police officers would be out on the road, but this wasn’t the case.

Here is another experience I had with a bus late one night. I took a bus that I wouldn’t take because no more buses were available. I took it fully aware of the consequences and dangers of travelling with the bus.

The bus was going to Kitty from Stabroek Market. On Regent Street, the bus driver was travelling at a speed of 100 km/h. All the passengers, including me, were afraid of losing their lives, and yet we were all afraid to ask the driver to slow down.

We’re afraid that he may harm us or put us out of the bus, and we would not be able to get another bus because it was late at night. We didn’t want to be put out in the middle of nowhere and then get robbed. This is the dilemma and plight of passengers on the buses.

Unfortunately, our elite political leaders can never understand the plight of passengers who are the poor and working class in Guyana. They are unable to identify with passengers because they travel in their Prado vehicles and only a few of them take the bus.

This is why police officers who are caught selling driver’s licences should face the full brunt of the law because by selling driver’s licences, they are indirectly responsible for endangering and causing the death of some passengers.

Most passengers are afraid of to tell drivers to slow down because some drivers are ex-­criminals and bad boys. Their fears are legitimate and infectious. So they remain quiet, fearing for their lives.

When the citizenry call on the government to provide government buses so that they can travel safely, it falls on deaf ears because the government leaders are unconcerned, uncaring and out of touch with the needs, feeling and suffering of passengers. They don’t see the need because they don’t have to take the bus.

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Pantlitz

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