The Guyana Police Force,(GPF) has an integral role in the successful implementation of the minibus code of conduct, Head of the United Minibus Association,(UMU) Eon Andrews has said.
The minibus code of conduct came into force in February with the objective to help address some consumer concerns about the public transportation sector. Among the concerns are the issues of overloading, speeding, loud and vulgar music and harassment.
The Ministry of Business, the Guyana Police Force, Guyana National Road Safety Council and the United Minibus Union, joined forces to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of public transportation in Guyana through the implementation of the Code of Conduct for operators.
Since the launch, minibus operators and other stakeholders were given a 90 day period to put systems in place to bring the code fully on stream. That 90 day period is set to expire this week.
Andrews, who has been actively involving in drafting and implementation of the code, told this newspaper that so far, minibus operators across the country have started putting systems in place.
Some operators have started wearing uniforms and there are wardens (monitors) overseeing the operators in Bartica. There are also wardens at route 32, 56, 42 minibus parks in Georgetown
The UMU President noted however that police presence at the minibus parks plays a vital role in ensuring that law and order is maintained.
“The input of the members of the police force is integral to successful implementation of the new operators’ code of conduct. The presence of senior officers, not just ranks, at least intermittently at the minibus parks will help greatly in terms of curbing the lawlessness.”
Andrews stressed that the code is backed by the traffic and consumer laws which allow passengers to take their complaints to the police as well as the Consumers Affairs Unit under the Ministry of Business.
He had also advocated for passengers to be cognizant of the fact that they are responsible for reporting any breach of their rights or violation of the code.
The Code of Conduct stipulates that all operators shall observe the respect for all public transport and traffic laws and regulations; the safety of all passengers is of primary importance; no passenger shall be discriminated against on the grounds of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability or nationality.
Additionally, it notes that the rights of the consumer must at all times be considered.
The code says that the transportation sector is a critical sector of the economy and should be operated professionally.
For general operations, all minibus personnel are required to display professionalism, i.e. be a part of an association, wear a uniform and an identity badge/card; undergo training as a criterion for new operators (drivers and conductors) and renewals of licenses; ensure that the fare structure is properly displayed.
Violations such as refusal to stop the bus at a designated bus stop to pick up or to let out a commuter; the placement in or outside of the minibus of any signs that may offend any group or individual; the playing of loud or offensive music; refusal to pick up commuters based on the grounds of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability or nationality a code of conduct for minibus operators and other personnel can result in the operation facing serious sanctions under the law.
At present, members of public can lodge their complaints at the Consumer Affairs Department via the police traffic department, the UMU 612-1517 and the Road Safety Council, 231-1986.
Stakeholder agencies have been working on sensitizing the public through radio and other forms of the media to the contents of the code of conduct.”
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