[www.inewsguyana.com] – Over the next few days the Ministry of Public Works will be offering free minibus services to commuters on the East Bank of Demerara, the West Bank of Demerara, the East Coast of Demerara and the West Coast of Demerara.
According to the subject Minister, Robeson Benn the decision was made after minibus operators plying the number 44, East Coast Demerara route threatened massive strike action over a proposed 100 percent fare increase.
Minister Benn said he was informed that minibus operators have been forcing commuters to pay the increased fares while in some cases others are being made to pay full fares for half way journeys.
“We have had to bring in buses free of charge before to try to alleviate the situation and to bring the operators to a position where they would consult with the relevant authorities as it relates to increasing fare.”
The Minister added that the Ministry does not want to encourage a situation where commuters are suffering as a result of a one sided action by minibus operators.
Minister Benn said commuters will be allowed to travel free of cost until there is a mutual resolution to the issue as hand.
“This will be going for as long as it takes. You may recall we had taken a position that they would not countenance an increase in fare if the price for gas had not gone beyond a $1000 per gallon; that situation has not arisen as yet.”
Hence, it was noted that the proposed fare increase is illegal as there has been no consultation with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce.
Further, the Minister deemed the action by some minibus operators as mere bullyism and noted that his Ministry’s response is not interfering with market forces.
Meanwhile the Minister said that if the need arises more buses will be added to the fleet to ease to woes of the travelling public. Some of the minibuses have been contracted from the Knight Rider bus service. He further debunked suggestions that the action of the Ministry is in wake of threats by the Opposition of the possibility of an early election.
The Minister pointed out that similar interventions were made three times in the past and it was not during an election period.
[Extracted and modified from GINA]