New minibus fare structure for Essequibo Coast unacceptable – Stabroek News

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Dear Editor,
The much needed and touted fare structure for Mini Buses and Hire Cars to have in their possession and to be displayed has been agreed on by the Ministry of Business and the Association and it must be  noted this was only after several letters were written to the editors of the major daily newspapers and published in the Letter Columns by yours truly, along with the Police starting to impound the Mini Buses both at Suddie and Anna Regina Police Station, that then and only then did the Association get going.
 It cannot escape one’s attention that while all the other administrative regions where the route is identified by a number that the Essequibo Coast was the last to comply with this essential part of the Code of Conduct that was agreed on by the subject ministry and the umbrella union, the Mini Bus union.
And I rather suspect that the Essequibo Mini Bus and Hire Car Associations were not functioning, and that displaying any new fare structure would not have been in the best interests of the owners and drivers of these cars and buses.
How on earth can any functioning association explain why after more than seven months after the Code of Conduct was agreed by the Ministry and the United Mini Bus Union, that only now in Region Two, that some of the drivers, through their Association, have the Fare Structure displayed which is supposed to be in their interest and that of the travelling public?
The Kaieteur News of Saturday July, 20, 2019 on page 13, ran an article under the caption “Business Ministry to phase out 18 year old Essequibo Fare Structure,” displaying a photograph of some parked Mini Buses immediately under the caption.
Paragraph two of the article states and I quote, “The Association met with the Minister of Business Hemraj Rajkumar and the Department of Consumer Affairs yesterday as preparation for the new fare structure commenced.”  Paragraph eight mentions and I again quote “The Minister pointed out that within this time, the Department of Consumer Affairs will complete all consultation with the public.”
On reading this story I was eagerly awaiting the announcement of when and where these consultations would have taken place, I am still waiting, but maybe I stand to be corrected here.
I would be more than grateful if the association can come up with a copy of the eighteen-year-old fare structure that is being phased out, so that a comparison can be made as to the justification of the increase shown in this new fare structure.
It is public knowledge that for decades the cost of transportation was way above that of other regions, and it was accepted because of the condition of the road. It is also public knowledge that the roads on the Essequibo Coast were the last to be upgraded from loam to asphalt, so it must be noted that commuters in this region all along were paying far more than other regions and in many cases double the fare, when one takes into consideration the miles the passenger travels, and that is why some of the areas as per the new fare structure show a decrease.
I travel routes in Regions Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven.
The new fare structure that was agreed on by the three parties, namely the Ministry of Business, the Essequibo Mini Bus and Hire car Association and the United Mini Bus Union, indicates that the fare from Supenaam to Suddie and the villages immediate before and after is now $300 for a distance of not more than 11 miles. This kind of increase is unprecedented and must be revised.
And I will also ask the signatories to the new fare structure to identify any route or any region (apart from the interior regions) where commuters are asked to pay $300 to travel a distance of less than 11 miles.
From Aurora and villages about one mile before and after, what used to be $140 and in some cases $160, is now $200.  I suspect that this new structure may be because of the speed boat passengers, and persons that use the steamer at Parika/Adventure, but it is unfair.
It must also be noted that there is the Suddie Public Hospital, the Suddie Magis-trate’s Court, the Essequibo Assizes at Suddie, the Land registry which is housed in the High Court Building, the Pre and Post Natal Clinic is at Suddie, there are two private laboratories at Suddie, the oldest and well stocked drug store as well as the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) market is at Suddie and last but certainly not least, the only funeral parlour is also at Suddie.
Apparently the authors of this new fare structure did not see it fitting to consider the negative impact that their decision would have on the people living in the area and who may have need to visit the aforementioned building and institutions.
Something is confusing here; if we are phasing out an eighteen-year-old fare structure, it would certainly mean that for eighteen years, persons were travelling from South Essequibo to Suddie and were paying $260. Why then has this injustice now been unleased upon us?
Yours faithfully,
Archie W. Cordis
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