Apr 14, 2021 Letters
Have you ever tried getting a bus only to have bus operators tugging and pulling at you (while cursing each other and quarrelling and fighting over you) to force you into this bus or the other bus, hell bent on not letting you enter another operator’s bus?
The issue we face with transportation providers in Guyana is that at present, unlike in more developed countries, the bus owners and operators are competing with each other for passengers.
This should never ever be the case. Especially not in Guyana.
In the absence of properly enforced traffic laws, competition between bus operators causes them to go over the speed limit, to go over their passenger limit, to make stops for pickups in illegal and dangerous places, to overcharge passengers at night, to generally behave lawlessly with no regard for the safety nor well-being of paying passengers, etc, etc.
The list is long. When bus operators compete for money, passengers are no longer people but just another $100 each.
On the other hand, where bus operators are paid by the government a flat salary every single month, they do not compete with each other because no matter how many passengers they manage to pick up they will still just be getting their flat salary (the government pays them a salary out of funds collected through the sale of bus-passes which the passengers use instead of cash when paying the bus operators – the bus operators do not collect cash from passengers but from the government).
Bus operators, who are paid a flat salary every month, do not stop for you unless you are at the bus stop as required. People in developed countries are aware that in order for them to get a bus they need to be at the bus stop before the bus arrives.
Bus operators who are paid a flat salary every month no longer see the need to speed. They do not overload. They do not overtake each other nor race each other. They do not play loud music to attract more customers, etc.
It’s about time that something is done to regularise and regulate transportation in Guyana.
What can be done is that a political party with the necessary fortitude, can and should, while in government, make the firm decision to stop all bus operators from providing transportation to the public unless they are employed with the government to do so.
The definition of “public transportation” is not simply transportation that is provided to the public. What is it? It is transportation provided to the public by the government.
What we presently have is transportation provided by private individuals which makes it private transportation.
We urgently need public transportation.
There are many people who have been forced to buy old cars because they are too poor to afford better ones, and too scared to use minibuses.
In developed countries even people who own several cars still use public transportation daily. They use their cars to travel on routes that are not covered by public transportation. This saves them from wearing down their cars and from wasting money on gas.
We will continue to be a truly backward country if something is not done very soon to ensure that basic things are provided for our citizens such as (1) well-paid police officers who do not take bribes but in fact enforce the laws especially the traffic laws, and (2) actual public transportation, etc.
John Fraser, LLB
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