The crackdown on mini-bus boom boxes What the people say about...
by Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
February 4, 2002

In the wake of protests against action being taken to remove boom boxes from mini-buses we asked the man/woman-in-the-street: `Are you in favour of the crackdown on boom boxes?' Their views follow.

Sherlock Heywood - joiner/singer: 'I support the crackdown on the boom boxes. It is a work hazard to mini-bus operators who don't seem to know it, as well as to their passengers. I don't believe that any music should be played on any public transportation. Playing music on public transportation does not mean that everyone wants to hear music. Perhaps, mini-bus operators plying long routes should get earphones for those passengers who would want to listen to the music. A simple thing like changing tapes or CDs or switching from one station to another or from one band to another could cause the driver to lose concentration and that could result in a fatal accident. It has been known to happen in the past.'

Tara - Parika businesswoman: 'This action was long overdue. The police have been trying on and off but unfortunately they do not sustain many of their programmes so the problem was allowed to reach this magnitude. I know the law makes provision for radio and tape decks but not amplified sound systems. This case with the mini-bus drivers protesting because they feel they will not be allowed to play music, I'm sorry to say, is just one of ignorance. No one is taking away the music but what is being taken away are the boom boxes. The protest in a sense is unnecessary. What is needed are some educational programmes or campaigns to educate drivers and conductors of mini-buses about the laws of the country and how to operate within the laws.'

Rondel Baird - student: 'I like music. I like music when I'm travelling. I am like any other youngster but I would agree that the boom boxes have been a source of problems not only for passengers but for the drivers themselves. Because of the music many young people instead of going to school stay on the bus for extended trips just to listen to the kind of music being played because music itself is addictive. I agree with the action being taken by the government to remove the boom boxes because of the noise nuisance and we need to have law and order. The behaviour of some persons protesting with the mini-bus operators was not good enough. They rocked some of the vehicles that were operating during the protest action, punctured the wheels of some vehicles and damaged some others. I walked a bit to get where I had to go. It was as simple as that.'

Ron James - farmer: 'I am for the crackdown on the boom boxes. The noise level can cause hearing impairment and it could negatively affect those travelling regularly with the buses playing loud music. The loud noise from the boom boxes is a health hazard and a noise nuisance and it goes against environmental regulations. I am not against music playing in a bus or vehicle but not to the levels played by the drivers of some buses. Then they leave us no choice but to be dependent on them. For instance, at the moment it is raining and had I been in a hurry and had to take a bus to get there I would have had no choice but to take the first bus that comes along whether the music was loud or not.'

Marsha Seetram - student: 'I support the crackdown on the boom boxes. I know that many people say that students encourage the mini-bus drivers and conductors to play loud music. Not all students are alike and even so the mini-bus drivers should be in control of the buses and should have the students telling them what to do and what not to do. His business is to drive and to drive safely. I am not against music in mini-buses or vehicles but I don't think they should be played through the big speakers that the buses have. The noise can actually get some of us deaf and the vibration could be disturbing as well.'

Liloutie Gopaul - housewife: 'I agree wholeheartedly with the effort to rid the mini-buses of the boom boxes. It is not that I am against music. I love music and it would be good to hear soothing music especially when travelling long distances but not the loud noise that causes so much problems when travelling. So I am in favour of the action being taken by the police and the government. I am very much disappointed with the protest action taken by the mini-bus operators.'

Trishal Singh - student: 'I think the police and the government are doing the right thing in cracking down on the boom boxes. I have seen it happen where the music was so loud that even though the driver in the vehicle from behind us was blowing his horn the driver did not hear him. This almost caused an accident. So it's not only passengers who are affected but the drivers themselves. Sometimes the conductors don't hear and then there are some people who are just shy and don't like shouting. Many teenagers, I know, go for the boom boxes because it's there but they wouldn't miss it if it's not there. In some ways it is also causing a breakdown in discipline.'

Steve Farinha - pensioner: 'The removal of the boom boxes from mini-buses is the one issue I am supporting the police and the government on. The drivers play the music too loud and it affects passengers in many ways but like good Guyanese we have begun to give in to the lawlessness of the day. I am not against music of any type. But they should not be amplified in any vehicle. Conductors and drivers many times do not hear passengers' instructions. Sometimes the loud music would make the heart palpitate. The drivers and conductors would say that school children like the music. They are using the boom boxes like the Pied Piper's flute to lead the students to destruction. We should also remember that Silence is Golden.'

Latchmin Singh - senior secondary student: 'I'm in agreement with the police and government's stand on the boom boxes. I think the drivers and conductors misjudged the public's view on the issue. Some students may want to hear boom boxes but not all. This does not mean that we would not like to hear music but not so loud that we cannot hear ourselves think. There are too many accidents on the roads and one of the causes is the boom boxes. Recently one of my friends' father was in an accident and it was an emotionally tough time for the family. What about when people die? Many students have been victims in road accidents. The last accident at Parika claimed the lives of four. Because I have to travel long distances I try to chose the buses on which I travel but this is not at all times possible.'

Stephen Roberts - student: 'I don't think the protest against the removal of the boom boxes from mini-buses was called for. If the law says no amplified sound then the law should be obeyed. I like listening to music and I enjoy the music travelling the East Bank Essequibo/West Coast Public Highway. Of course that is when it is being played moderately. It is disturbing though when it is played too loudly and passengers have to shout to tell conductors and drivers where they have to get off. If a young person tells the conductor to turn down the music, he or she is rebuked by other students and many times, students like myself just shut up and stay put and hope for the best. So I believe the control mechanism should be put in place to save mini-bus operators, students and other passengers from the effects of the boom boxes.'