– Manniram Prashad
By Gary Eleazar
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manniram Prashad, says that legislation to have the minibus operators and taxis regulated by the Public Utilities Commission will be a last resort.
Prashad, during an interview on Thursday, said that at present, relations with the relevant umbrella associations have been amicable, in that any adjustment of fares would usually come after discussions among the various entities.
There have been concerns expressed by senior Government officials in recent times about the difficulty in having minibus and taxi operators adjust the fares in response to fuel price adjustments.
Fuel is the major expenditure for operators. When fuel prices came down from above $1,000 per gallon to $777 per gallon, operators were hesitant to reduce their fares.
After some lengthy discussion with the ministry amid public outcry, some of the operators agreed to reduce their fares.
Fuel prices have now been reduced to $555 per gallon, their lowest since 2004, and the minibus associations are again hesitant to adjust accordingly.
According to Prashad, he was scheduling meetings with the various associations for the coming week, given that following the latest drop in prices he would have to be calling for minibus operators to reduce their fares even further.
But, as was reported in another section of the media, President of the General Minibus Association, (GMBA) Lylon Weithers, has said that a “further reduction in fares is not imminent.”
He said that he has not been approached by the minister as yet, but that even if approached, his body will not agree to a further drop in fares.
It was also reported that Eon Andrews, the Chairman of the General Minibus Union, which represents Route 45 buses and some buses from Routes 31 and 32, also said that the union was not considering reducing fares.
He reportedly added that, before such a decision could be made, he would have to meet with the minister to discuss the grounds on which a decrease in fares was justified.
He said that what the minister and other citizens needed to realize was that the price of gas was not the only issue affecting minibus operators.
According to him, these operators also had other expenses to consider, such as spare parts and general maintenance of the bus.
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