ECD minibus operators burn tyres, block roads as Union wants meeting with Govt

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…Hire car owners also calling for Govt intervention 

Several minibus drivers on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) on Friday morning stacked and burned several tyres along the Coldingen public road and the Railway Embankment as they increased the pressure on Government to respond to their concerns by reducing the prices for gasoline at the pumps.

As a result of the blaze and the ensuing traffic chaos that could arise, the fire service and the police were been summoned to the scene and quelled the fire.

The fire fighters also removed the debris that remained on the road

Just yesterday, a series of protest and strike actions were mounted by the drivers.

Meanwhile, on Friday the United Minibus Union (UMU), held a press conference where it made several calls for Government to intervene and cushion the rising fuel prices, noting that while they were acquainted with the relevant authorities in the previous administration, they are lost as to who they should take the matter up with in the Coalition.

“…but the point persons in the Commerce Department in the Tourism Ministry indicated to us that they are not involved in negotiating minibus fares and other related matters. At this time, the Union does not know who we should engage,” President Eon Andrew of the UMU said.

Moreover, he said that if the price of gasoline does not reduce, minibus drivers will be forced to hike their fares.

 “As it relates to the constantly escalating fuel prices and the concomitant minibus operational costs, the Union is very concerned that there can be a frantic increase in minibus fares which obviously will impact on the travelling public,” he said.

However, Andrews asserted that it is not for the drivers to decide that the fares be raised, which is why negotiations with Government is necessary.

“Things must be done in a very civil manner. We’ll stick to the structure agreed to with the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce which must be displayed within the carriage of the bus…Negotiations would indicate [further]. Government will know minimum wage and we can negotiate these things. That’s how we arrive at these things,” he said.

The Union is proposing a hike of fares by at least $20 and as much as $40, since the drivers complained bitterly about their livelihood being adversely affected by the climbing fuel prices.

Hire car owners in certain sections of the country are also calling on the Government to reduce the fuel prices or increase the fares charged immediately.

So far taxi drivers working in Diamond, East Bank Demerara and the Corentyne area have been the most vocal with operators calling on the Government to end its silence and take action to remedy the situation.

Some said it was totally unfair that they have to pay the high fuel prices but are not allowed to increase their fares to cushion the effect as is the normal cause with private enterprise.

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