On Saturday November 8th I was accompanying a friend on a mission to transport a convalescing woman who had recently done knee replacement surgery on both knees to Essequibo. We arrived at Parika at 4 a.m. by car with intent on catching the ferry schedule to leave at 5am. There was a long line of vehicles, cars, SUVs, trucks etc, lined to board the vessel.
Judging from the number of vehicles in the line, It became apparent to me that it would be difficult for us to get on the vessel unless we could have gotten some form of preferential treatment. I was asked by my friend to purchase tickets for the three of us and the car. After some ten minutes in the ticket line, I reached the clerk’s booth and placed my request for tickets. I was asked the number of the car by the clerk, who proceeded to run her pen along a sheet of paper with vehicle numbers on it. After a while, she nonchalantly responded, “this vehicle is not on the list.” I said, ” Ma’am I have a patient who recently did a surgery and cannot walk, is there any chance we can get on the boat.”
She replied. “You have to talk to <r.(name of individual given).”
“And where can I find Mr.—-“, I asked.
“Directing traffic on the boat.” She replied.
After getting back to my friend with the sad news, off we went in search of Mr. Bacchus. Out on the wharf we saw a character in a dark hooded jacket directing a container truck to reverse onto the boat. My friend made the approach. “Hi, we have a surgery patient in a car and we were told only a Mr. —– can help.” The guy with the hood replied. “Mr. —- would tell you the same thing, read number 8 on the board at the gate,” and walked away. A minute later a THD worker in blue uniform passed by. My friend asked. “Hi, who is —-?. The worker pointed out the said hooded guy a little distance from us. My friend and I looked at each other, bewildered. “Let’s go to the gate.” I suggested to my friend. On the gate was a huge notice board with instructions pertaining to vehicles boarding the boat, numbered 1 to 5, no number 8.
Resigned to our fate, we went to his car to discuss with the woman, the possibility of us going on the boat without the car. The woman assured us that in her condition there is no way she could climb the two flights of steps to get to the passenger deck and that she would rather go with the first speed boat, loading from 6 a.m. That settled. I went back to the gate front to get my favorite bake and salt fish with coffee. As I was munching on my breakfast an argument ensued between two car owners close to the gate in the line and the gate security as two cars were called up from further down the line to board the boat.
I had just finished my breakfast when I saw my friend assisting the lady who was hobbling by the use of a four prong walking aid towards the gate. My worst fear was confirmed. The lady wanted to use the washroom and I had seen a padlock on it since I was in the ticket line. So I went to the security guard and told her that we have sick lady who wants to use the washroom. She told me to check with the ticket clerk for the key. The clerk said she didn’t have the keys. Voices were raised between the two of them over who controlled the washroom keys. After a while the guard walked over to a tablet beside the wash room door, lifted a book and emerged with a key. She open the washroom door, our lady friend slowly maneuvered in, I breathe I sigh of relief.
At that moment it began to dawn on me that the THD management seems to be of the belief that the commuters using the ferries have no right to have a call of nature before the sun rises or rather by 8 o clock when someone comes to Mann the washroom to collect $60 per person desirous of using the washroom. A notice on the wall explicitly states the price.
I am aware that Guyanese are famous for misusing washrooms, this is a hurdle we have to get past. Maybe some photographic illustration on washroom usage posted on washrooms will help, but we should not lock our washrooms at night while people are commuting.
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