Boom Boom battle Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
January 30, 2002

THERE have some aspects of the `boom boom' battle started on the East Coast Demerara Monday by drivers and operators of mini-buses that have gone beyond the accepted guidelines of protests.

Those who want to withdraw their buses from operating on the routes for which they are licenced are free to do so any time they want. They can park the vehicles under their houses or in their yards for a year if they choose and no one can stand in their way as the buses are their property.

Although they are licenced to operate designated routes, we understand there are no legal regulations compelling owners and operators to run the routes on any schedule.

They operate a public transportation service when they choose and it is our understanding that they cannot lose their licences to operate if they withdraw their labour, as some have done since Monday.

Those who have gone on protest are within their rights - they have chosen not to run their buses for hire because they are against the police campaign to get rid of the `boom boom' (big music) boxes on board the vehicles.

Many concerned people and groups have blamed the `boom boom' factor and excessive speeding by mini-buses as among the major causes of the high rate of death and serious accidents on the roads of this country.

The authorities have started a clampdown and some mini-bus operators and owners do not like it - and so they have pulled their buses off the routes to make their point.

Fair enough.
But those on strike cannot be allowed to prevent other mini-bus operators and owners who are not part of their campaign from working.

Puncturing the tyres of vehicles not taking part in the protest is going beyond the limit and the police should be on the lookout for the perpetrators of such dastardly acts.

As we reported yesterday, two sick persons were on board a bus that was stopped at the site of the main East Coast Demerara protest and two of its wheels punctured.

Countless others would have also been affected by such `tactics' and it was not known what anguish those sick persons had to endure as a result of the `boom boom' protesters.

This is not the first time that workers, students, farmers and other commuters have been severely affected by mini-bus operators withdrawing their public transportation services.

Mini-bus operators have gone on strike before for higher fares and other causes and there had been conflicts during those protests.

The harsh reality is that mini-buses have become the backbone of the public road transportation system and operate largely by their own rules.

When they choose to withdraw their services, thousands are subject to severe pressures and the authorities have to look at medium and long-term measures to address the situation.

Maybe it is time that serious consideration again be given to reintroducing a well-organised `big bus' system on the main public transportation routes along the coast.

It is unfair for workers and others to be held to ransom when others refuse to abide by what the majority see as eminently sensible rules.