Believe it or leave it! There are persons in Guyana who when they leave home, travel with exact money to make their purchases and pay for their transportation.
Years ago, during a period when the price of petrol had increased at the pumps, a particular minibus owner, who was also the bus’s conductor, decided to arbitrarily hike the fare by G$ 20. One commuter was neither aware nor prepared for that increase and therefore when he handed the conductor the old fare, he was told that he needed to pay $20 more.
He protested, saying that the amount he tendered was the regular fare that he paid. The conductor was unsympathetic. He simply told the man that the price of gasoline had increased and that the bus fare on his bus had also increased.
The man protested. He argued that the government had not approved any increase. This rattled the conductor who indicated that the bus was registered in his name and not in the name of the government and therefore the government could not determine how much should be charged.
The exchange between the man and the conductor was lengthy, since neither was budging. As such one of the other passengers offered to pay the $20, knowing that the man did not have the extra money. The man however was unmoved.
He decided that smart man was going to meet his match. He took the $20 that was offered but told the conductor that he wanted a receipt.
Now this is the first time in history that any passenger on a minibus had demanded a receipt. Before the conductor could protest, the man indicated that he was not paying any fare unless he got a receipt.
The conductor obviously was caught off- guard but being a smart man himself he tore out a piece of paper, wrote a receipt and gave it to the man with outstretch hands waiting to collect his fare.
The man looked at the paper, turned it around and asked, “Where is the revenue stamp?”
At present, there is no regard for passengers. You enter a bus and before you can be seated, the bus pulls off. You are thrown backward by the momentum. There is no concern for service and that is due to the lack of competition. And you have to pay the full fare!
If there was competition between transport operators, the service would have been better and fares would have been more economical. But since passengers are prepared to accept whatever is given to them even though they are paying, they are forced to be price-takers.
It is the passengers who have to begin to assert their rights by demanding to know the fare before they enter a bus and by demanding better service. If you are paying for a seat, then there should be no overloading.
And no police rank should have to enforce this rule. Once it happens, passengers should protest.
But too often what we see at bus parks is a mad rush to get on board, so much so that some passengers seem glad just to get inside the bus, even if the bus was overloaded.
In one instance, at the Stabroek Market Square, there was a mad scramble to board a bus. One man was desperately trying to get on the overcrowded bus.
But the more he tried the more he was pushed away by the many persons already inside and others trying to get on. After a while, somebody said, “There’s no room. It’s full !”
“But you must let me on!” shouted the man.
“Why, what’s so special about you?” the people asked.
“I’m the driver,” replied the man
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