Minibus touts beg Police to stop clampdown

A section of the East Coast Minibus Park

…promise to act professionally

…blame unemployment for job choice

Amid a Police campaign to get rid of all touts from minibus parks, the touts are begging the authorities not to take bread out of their mouths, while promising to act in a more professional manner.

According to the touts, it is unfair for Guyanese who are attempting to make an honest living, in a country with a high percentage of unemployment, to be prosecuted for doing so.

With the support of passengers, bus drivers and conductors, several touts told <<<Inews>>> that they are appealing to the hearts of the officials within the Guyana Police Force Traffic Department to stop prosecuting them.

One tout, who refers to himself as “King Tout”, having been in the touting profession for some 20 years, said he continues to be a target of traffic officers but is merely doing that type of job to put food on his table.

The man said he was arrested recently three times and made to pay hefty bail sums, which he stated is unfair since he is no criminal.

“Touting does give me my daily bread…three times them lock me up in one week you know and its real heart-rending right now, when you go to court, the fine you does gotta pay is $15,000 to $20,000,” the tout angrily revealed.

A section of the East Coast Minibus Park

According to the man, he is a tradesman, however, because of difficulties being encountered in gaining employment in the field, he had to settle for touting.

He noted that if Government could provide employment for him, he would happily leave the touting profession.

“I is a tradesman, they could set up a nice job for me you know but no, they cant so they gotta be lenient because they keep locking we up and wasting we time, them aint giving you nothing in the Police lock up plus they sending you to court, I want justice or something must happen man, what more they want I do?” the South park tout questioned.

A female tout of the Sophia minibus park and the breadwinner of three grandchildren said touting is her livelihood since she is aged and is unable to find employment.

“For me, no matter what they do they cant stop tout…to full the buses and get your lil change, I aint see that as nothing because this is how I does feed my grandchildren,” the woman explained.

Another tout of the Georgetown-Mahaica bus park noted that many times touts scare off bandits, who may be lurking around to snatch valuables and at times even rescue people who are being robbed.

The tout recalled that just recently, a thief snatched a woman’s phone through the window of a bus where she was sitting. The thief was allegedly caught by a tout who gave chase as no Police Officer was present at the time.

“The tout them does look out for the people them because when the thief man them come out in the afternoon and the people aint catching bus. So when a bus show up and the people rushing in, the thief men them does put their hands in their bags and steal their money and so…we does protect people from these things out here, the Police them don’t care,” the man argued.

“We know that the pulling and tugging of people must stop and we are willing to comply with that but this is honest work man”.

One bus driver called for touts to be organised, instead of removed.

“What they need to do is more or less organise them, the thing about it is that the law is against them but they’ve been in existence for a pretty long time and regardless of what the Police attempt to do they still shoot up. The time has come now to look at the problem and try to tackle the problem by changing the laws to accommodate them or by organising something to put them properly,” the route 45 minibus driver explained.

While some persons have made representation for the touts, many others have complained about the disorderly manner in which they behave at the minibus parks.

Just recently, 17 touts were arrested and charged as the clampdown exercise was initiated by the traffic department.

Traffic Chief Linden Isles said the exercise is aimed at ridding the parks of all touts and as such the public cooperation is critical. He also noted that the campaign will be ongoing until the desired results are achieved.  So far, over 100 touts have been arrested and charged. (Kizzy Coleman)



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