On Wednesday, some three days after a campaign to remove mag wheel rims from all public transportation started, some West Coast minibus operators informed Kaieteur News that the police have since restored their fitness certificates. However the men are distrustful about the procedure. Thus they are seeking the attention the Home Affairs Minister to address the issue. The operators said that if the campaign continues it will most likely trigger strike action.
“Why they give we back we papers if this thing is wrong? We want the attention of the minister to fix the ongoing situation on the West Coast, because they give back we certificates today, but tomorrow could be another story… they might take away we fitness again,” one driver said.
The operators say that they have consistently been under duress by the officers of the law.
“Is a whole set ah nonsense. Is every two day we got campaign. The police deh pun we back all the time for nothing at all. We wukkin and dey pull we in and empty we whole load of passenger. Dese people got to go to work and so, and sometimes when we can’t work they are inconvenienced; because the police got we stall up whole day… no charge at times and we lose a whole day’s pay waiting until they feel pleased to release we,” another operator noted.
Kaieteur News was told that the exercise which started on Tuesday, last, saw more than sixty-five minibuses taken off the roads for possessing mag wheel rims. The minibus operators claimed that they have not broken the law, because none of their vehicles have exceeded the legal width that is required to maneuver.
The workers said that when the police took away their fitness certificates it prevented them from earning their “daily bread”. Some commuters on the West Coast complained that the campaign further complicated their access to public transportation. They said that for the past two days, Route 32 minibuses were scarce, especially for persons traveling long distances on the West Coast.
This development on Wednesday sparked a protest among the route 32 minibus operators. More than 34 of them assembled in the vicinity of the West Demerara PPP/C office. The operators were calling on officials there to make some form of intervention on their behalf. They maintained that they are constantly hassled by the cops
When Kaieteur News arrived at the scene, several minibuses were seen parked along the sides if the road – the drivers and conductors anxiously voicing their disapproval of the campaign, calling it inadequate.
“We can’t work, the police tek away we papers and tell we we gon get it back if we tek off the mag rims but we measure we bus and we rims is below the maximum 7 feet 6 inches that the law requires; they suspend we fitness til we get fine rims, you know how much it cost to get fine rim fuh all four wheels” one driver argued.
“Is only we dey targeting. Dis thing ain’t happening nowhere else, not in Linden or Georgetown. Dey eyes pass we on the West Coast,” another shouted.
In addition, the operators are claiming that they are unable to get the “fine rims” for the vehicles because the majority of importers have only mag rims in stock. They affirmed that they should not be prosecuted for the rims, because some of the vehicles are sold with them, while adding that it is the importation of this spare part that should be stopped.
The men also argued that when they were granted fitness certificates for their minibuses it was with those very rims that they are now being told are unfit to operate on the roadways.
They are of the opinion that the mag rims are better for minibuses because they “give the vehicle a more sturdy balance in all weather and road conditions”.
The operators also expressed dissatisfaction at the route 32 minibus association, describing the union as a waste of time and money.
“We paying them and we ain’t getting’ the kind of representation we need. A number of issues need to be addressed and nobody ain’t doing anything. We got ‘no stopping’ sign stretching quarter-mile along the road in Parika…we can’t stop there to collect passenger, but a whole line of vehicles could park there, that sign needs to be removed.”
The men had earlier asked for time to be given for them to remove the fixtures from their vehicles as this was first time that there was such a campaign.
However a police source told Kaieteur News that the campaign had been an ongoing one. The source said that a manuscript from the Home Affairs Ministry was sent to the station since May 22 of this year.
“The document clearly stated that all minibuses with wide wheels will be targeted during the campaign,” the source said.
This publication was told that all the minibuses found in breach of the traffic regulation were taken off the roads.
According to the source, the campaign was in “an ease and press motion”, but that a recent incident whereby an accident was caused by a defective mag rim tire sparked the campaign. This newspaper was told that the exercise was only to caution the minibus operatives. (Rehanna Ramsay)
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