Commuters continue to suffer By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
February 1, 2002

As strike action by mini-bus operators around the country ended its fourth day yesterday commuters continued to have harrowing experiences in their attempts to go about their daily business.
Late yesterday afternoon the mini-bus parks were filled with passengers who were seen rushing to get seats in the few mini-buses that worked. Many schoolchildren could be seen at the parks and anxious female workers with their nursery school-age children at their sides, wearily awaited transportation. The most affected parks were East Bank, Parika, Vreed-en-Hoop and other areas on the West Coast and West Bank and East Coast.
Passengers yesterday told stories of being hauled out of mini-buses by striking operators who accused the working operators of being traitors. Many commuters were forced to pay exorbitant fares in buses or cars that transported them.

Irene Fagu
Seventy-five-year-old Irene Fagu, who resides at Providence, East Bank Demerara (EBD) said yesterday that she was forced to pay $200 on Wednesday afternoon to get home in a mini-bus. The customary fare from Georgetown to where she lives is $40.
The woman, who is a Stabroek Market vendor, was seen slowly walking around the bus park with a pained expression on her face as she attempted to secure a seat in one of the working buses. The woman said that she suffers from arthritis in her feet and experiences severe pain. She said that this was used as an excuse by mini-bus operators not to allow her into the buses. She said that since the strike began operators have been telling her that she was too slow in getting on and off the buses. Asked what she thought about music in mini-buses, the woman said she agreed with the authorities in banning the music. She is of the opinion that the music is a contributor to the speeding of mini-bus drivers and she pointed out that they blared the music so loud that most times they were unable to hear when a passenger asked to be put off.
But 17-year-old Kurt John is against music being totally banned from mini-buses.
John, a lower-sixth form student of St Stanislaus College was at the EBD bus park, his arms folded, as he patiently waited for a bus.

Kurt John
The young man told Stabroek News that he felt the mini-bus drivers should be allowed to play the music at a "moderate" level. He said that he usually did not use public transportation, as his mother would drive him to school, but for the last two days his mother was unable to do so. He related that on Wednesday morning he left his Eccles home at around 7:30 am and never arrived at school until 9 am. On any other morning he would just have taken 20 minutes to get to school. He also had a hard time getting transportation yesterday afternoon as he was forced to wait over an hour and a half before getting a bus.
John's sentiments on music in buses were also echoed by 16-year-old Alvin Singh and Carlos Noble both of whom attend classes at Camptown Adult Education Association (AEA) in First Street, Campbellville. They told this newspaper that the mini-bus drivers should be allowed to play music but not loudly. Singh, who lives at Meadowbank, said that he usually travelled to the city in a hire car and as such did not experience such a hard time getting to town, although some drivers had upped the fare.
Noble, who lives at Atlantic Gardens, East Coast Demerara (ECD) was forced to pay $600 on Wednesday to go home in a hire car as he was unable to take a bus. The usual fare is just $50.

Kim Withrite, Tomikha, Trivoun and Clive Carter
Stabroek News caught up with a family of four who was unable to travel to Timehri to see a relative off.
Clive Carter and Kim Withrite and their daughters, nine-year-old Tomikha, and seven-year-old Trivoun, were seen standing at the bus park, disappointment on their faces. They said that they were supposed to meet relatives in the city to travel on a special bus to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri but because of the long wait for transport from Vergenoegen they missed the bus. At 5:30 pm yesterday they finally abandoned the idea of travelling to the airport as the flight was expected to leave at 6 pm. However, they were still faced with the problem of getting back to Vergenoegen. Withrite, who works in the city, related that on Wednesday she was forced to pay $1,000 to get home in a hire car, when she usually paid only $80.
Their children attend Stewartville Primary School and on Wednesday they were forced to walk more than three miles to their home as they were unable to get transportation. According to their parents, school was over at 2:30 pm but their children only arrived home at 5:00 pm.
Carter and Withrite also feel that mini-buses should be allowed to play music but at a moderate level.