I refuse to pay $80 from Main Street to the minibus park
I have kept my silence about the increase in fares being peddled by the private operators of public transportation around Georgetown for as long as I possibly could. I was hoping that good sense will prevail and the fares would go back to what it was before.
It is now time to speak out against it as operators seem to believe that the public will forget about it and just comply. I am not satisfied that the increase is a justified increase.
As soon as an increase in the income tax threshold was announced, minibus operators believed that they were entitled to a share of that increase. Unfortunately, what they fail to realize is that the vast majority of persons who use minibuses do so because it’s the most economical form of transportation, taking into consideration their meager incomes.
Very few persons choose to use minibuses because they want to; they do so because they can’t afford to take a taxi or own a vehicle. Who would choose to travel in minibuses where you are forced to “double up” but still pay the full fare, subjected to loud, vulgar music, harassed by touts, subjected to the reckless driving of the majority of drivers and chastised if you voice your concern about any of those issues?
You are forced to “give a lil squeeze”, “push yuh body” and “tek it hay”. The persons who are made to suffer are those who need assistance the most. I refuse to pay $80 from Main and Lamaha to the minibus park. Twenty dollars more and I can go all the way to Diamond on the East Bank or Annandale on the East Coast. I have taken to having the exact $60 change as conductors refuse to give you the correct change once a $100 or more is presented.
What bugs me the most, Mr. Editor, is the fact that the majority of these operators do not pay income taxes. It is people like you and I, who are (in this case unfortunately) a part of the formal system and who are taxed beyond what we can afford.
Yet the operators who make $80,000 monthly can take that entire amount home whilst you and I will have to pay taxes on $30,000 of that. It has come to my attention that commuters travelling along the East Coast of Demerara are made to pay $200 per person when travelling after 3pm. As most persons are aware, it is difficult to get transportation to the East Coast around that time. Operators are using this as an opportunity to exploit the commuters.
I am calling on the Minister of Commerce to establish a regulatory body to monitor these private operators to ensure that the interests of the travelling public are taken into consideration.
To my delight, the government has signaled its consideration of the reintroduction of a public transportation system. I will be the least bit sympathetic to private minibus operators when this happens.
Like other monopolies, they tend to squeeze as much out of you as they possibly can. As my mother so often reminds me “you never miss the water until the well runs dry”.