Firm action needed in speedboat operations
Guyana Chronicle
April 27, 2002

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THE manner in which passenger speedboats in this country operate leave much to be desired, and while commuters have persistently complained about the quality of the service provided very little has been done to improve it.

There must be adequate and effective safety standards but the operations of speedboats fall very short of what is required.

At any given peak hour at any of the locations where speedboats operate, one can observe the dangerous practices and chaos that prevail, endangering the lives of commuters.

Touts frequently pull and tug at potential passengers, and in some instances virtually drag them into their boats. Sometimes the drivers in their mad scramble to outdo each other, perilously drive their boats without due care, colliding with each other and creating a potential danger.

In addition, commuters are frequently subjected to the foulest of language and discourtesies one can imagine. And many of the commuters are young children who are exposed to such `classical examples of decent behaviour'.

And worse yet when passengers sometimes attempt to caution these delinquents, the response is a tirade of expletives.

Surprisingly, at the Georgetown Stelling where a branch of the Transport and Harbours Department is located, this repulsive state of affairs continues unabated.

Another area of serious concern is the type of stairways that are constructed for the embarkation and disembarkation of commuters. These are narrow, steep and without rails, and are very dangerous especially when it rains. Many are also in a state of disrepair.

Aren't there any building standards or specifications to which these structures must conform? And if there are why aren't these enforced?

Or aren't there any building standards or specifications? If there are not then the authorities responsible should certainly be upbraided, because that is gross negligence.

At the Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling, West Coast Demerara, a brand new facility with a walkway and stairway was built to facilitate commuters, but to this day it has not been used.

This must have cost taxpayers a million or more dollars and we wonder why it has not been used.

The trouble is that this structure has been languishing for nearly two years and there has been no investigation or explanation to the public for this unacceptable state of affairs.

From another perspective, many tourists or visitors to Guyana use the speedboat service in their travels around the country and would obviously observe the poor quality of service, especially when it is considered that they are accustomed to a high quality of service in the public transportation system in their countries.

This certainly will not help the local tourism cause which is being vigorously promoted and pursued.

While it is appreciated that speedboats provide an essential and important service in the water transport sector, this does not endow operators with the right to provide a service of poor quality and show such disrespect to commuters with their vulgar and reckless behaviour.

It is time for the authorities to take firm action in the operation of this service.