Route 50 minibus strike…
NEW AMSTERDAM, BERBICE – In the wake of recent protest action taken by some minibus operators plying the Number 50 route, officials are calling on them to be more responsible in their actions.
Mid-morning yesterday, a press conference was held in the Region Six boardroom. There were no representatives of the minibus operators.
Officer-In-Charge of Traffic, Division ‘B’ of the Guyana Police Force, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Adonis said the Zone 50 operators decided to vent their feelings and in the process innocent persons were affected. According to him, the protest action began on Monday at intervals between 06:00 and 18:00 hours, but only a few supported it. Yesterday, it continued.
The bone of contention is that these drivers believe they are being short-changed since the introduction of the Number 56 Route, which came into effect on August 30th. They claim that they are not getting the amount of passengers to ply their trade on a daily basis.
The new zone operates between New Amsterdam and Rosignol.
The Number 50 Zone was originally for those plying the Rosignol to Georgetown route, but after the Berbice River Bridge came into action, the zone extended, thus allowing the drivers to operate from New Amsterdam to Georgetown and vice-versa.
Mr. Adonis pointed out that the operators acting out now are those known for lawlessness and are deemed unruly. These operators chose to remain in the Number 50 Zone and are now crying foul. Nevertheless, before mid-morning yesterday, police ranks held discussion with those affected and the action was called off.
Region Five Chairman Harrinarine Baldeo, at the press conference, noted that prior to the protest action; none of the operators indicated there was some dissatisfaction. According to him, by withholding their service, other persons were inconvenienced and in some cases physically abused.
Between Monday and Tuesday, there were reports of some commuters such as nurses, school children and the like, being pulled from the few buses which continued to work. Some disorderly individuals reportedly punctured tyres and blocked the road to prevent business as usual. Early yesterday morning, coconut trees were chopped and laid across the thoroughfare in the Mahaicony/Little Abary area leading to Georgetown. It was not long before police ranks cleared the way and traffic was allowed to move freely.
“We are not here to declare war,” the Region Five Chairman said.
He added that if there are concerns, then the ones affected should have sought an audience with the relevant authorities rather than resort to such action. He said before the new zone came into being, these operators were permitted to operate as far as New Amsterdam but that resulted in chaos. They had even implemented the first come, first serve basis for the minibuses, but that too ended with problems. Mr. Baldeo reflected that there were calls for a bus park in the D’Edward Village location, but after close scrutiny, the idea was dismissed.
Chairman of Region Six, Zulfikar Mustapha, indicated that they are looking at the issue facing the Number 50 operators since it is their livelihood that is in question, but yet still there must be law and order. No decision has yet been taken.
Prior to the introduction of the Number 56 Zone, consultation sessions were held with all players – Number 63 ‘A’, 63, and 50, along with those who worked around Rosignol, Bath Settlement, New Amsterdam and other locations. According to Mustapha, there was no objection at that time and green light was given. Prior to that, a survey was also carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Public Works and the need for bus parks at the New Amsterdam and Rosignol Ferry Stellings was recognized. Mustapha said it was only after the new zone came into being that many of these issues have been arising.
Meanwhile, another burning issue is that of the Number 63 ‘A’ minibus operators and their desire to operate outside their stipulated area. This is the express route from Moleson-Creek to Georgetown. There are only 25 buses plying this course.
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