Since the relocation of the route 42 bus park to Bugle Street, Georgetown, touts are being highly criticised for the manner in which they solicit passengers. Touting, although outlawed, has become a popular way of obtaining an income for many young men, and even women.
City Council officials opted to temporarily move route 42 minibuses and ‘short drop’ vehicles to the location to make room at the Stabroek Square for vendors who were displaced after a portion of the Stabroek Market roof collapsed.
City Hall Councillors are carrying out works on the old Route 42 bus park, where some 99 vendors will be placed.
With a high level of persuasion needed and no form of academic qualification, touts take up their positions from as early as 06:00hrs. Their aim is to see who can load the most minibuses. The most targeted appear to be the elderly, schoolgirls, attractive women, and tourists.
Not only do these touts come prepared for the weather armed with their umbrella and caps, they come ready with their catchphrases to persuade persons to travel with a specific minibus. Persons using public transportation have complained of touts being aggressive, shouting loudly, using abusive language and reacting angrily when persons are reluctant to travel.
Touts have become known for grabbing on to passengers’ personal luggage. In some cases, one tout might escort a passenger to a bus while another takes their bag to another vehicle. Many persons expressed that soliciting passengers for some touts can turn into a game of tug-of war, but instead they grab the bags and bodies of passengers.
A high school student who resides on the East Bank of Demerara said: “These boys irritating. They come and just hold on, on people’s bag and even their clothes. Then they want pack you like sardine in a tin and expect you to pay the full fare.”
Mr. Mc Pherson, a pensioner, said he has no problem with touting since it is an honest way of life.
But the elderly man pointed out that touts are also in the habit of deceiving passengers.
“These boys does trick you and tell you that the bus needs two or three more passengers. When they carry you to the bus or the bus roll up you is the first one inside. These “youngsters” need to operate in a professional manner and also be properly attired and take care of their personal hygiene,” he concluded.
A female passenger said that she does not see them as a problem since she has not encountered any bad treatment. However, she pointed out that touts need to carry themselves in a respectable manner and learn to accept when passengers refuse to travel with them.
The woman stated that she understands that most of these men have families to take care of and they are just out there toiling instead of robbing people.
She added, “I don’t see them as a problem. At least they better than nuff young people wuh deh bout the place robbing and making people life uncomfortable.”
However, while passengers are hoping that the touts could be more courteous and allow passengers to travel in which ever vehicle they want, many minibus drivers are saying that the touting system has gotten out of hand and have no regard for traffic police.
A bus driver explained that the Route 42 bus park operates through a ‘line system’ whereby each driver would take turns in loading their minibuses. But according to the driver, these touts would give preference to the drivers of “hot plate” buses who often disregard the ‘line system.’
“Is like these drivers don’t have any regards for police. They know they suppose to deh in the line and yet they does be loading their bus outside. Them police does be out here patrolling and yet them banna does continue with their lawlessness. When them notice the police spot them you will see how quick them does hustling fuh tell them touts lock them door fuh drive off.”
On the other hand, bus drivers who operate without conductors say that touts are very helpful to them since they cannot drive and load a bus at the same time.
One of them said, “I really don’t see them as a problem. Some of them got to up their game. But they does come in really handy especially on a slow day. They does go all out to bring passengers to get their money.”
It is estimated that a minibus tout can rake in between $5,000 and $10,000 per day, tax free, depending on the weather and passenger traffic.
When Kaieteur News visited the bus park yesterday afternoon, it was evident that some touts were insolent.
Many of them were seen shouting and harassing passengers in full view of traffic policemen.
However, there were a few who approached passengers in a courteous manner.
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