Minibus operators mull setting up national body
Benschop charged with dangerous driving
Stabroek News
February 5, 2002

Transportation was mostly back to normal yesterday as many of the minibus operators who were on strike last week returned to work saying that they were waiting until a national minibus association, which is expected to come on stream shortly, is organised.

With the exception of a few operators, mainly from Georgetown, who were protesting the arrest of former television personality, Mark Benschop outside the Brickdam lock-ups, all of the minibus routes were busy..

On the East Coast from as early as 6:00 am, operators commenced their work and commuters who were left stranded for most of last week had vehicles to transport them to work, school and other places of business.

In Berbice the situation was similar with all of the Route 63 buses and Route 50 vehicles in operation. The East Bank, by far the most affected area last week, was tranquil. Linden buses and those plying Route 42 (Georgetown-Timehri) were in operation as were those plying the West Demerara routes 31 and 32 and in and around the city.

Instead of their usual lingering at bus parks, many school children could be seen joining buses soon after 3:00 pm, perhaps out of the fear that drivers might resume strike action.

There were a few operators who parked their vehicles and stood guard behind barricades in front of the Brickdam Police Station, protesting that Benschop had been wrongfully arrested and was not responsible for the disorderly motorcade last Friday.

Benschop is charged with dangerous driving and two counts of leading an illegal procession. The charges came after he reportedly led the motorcade, which was staged by mini-bus operators in and around Georgetown and along the East Bank, last Friday.

Benschop's car was halted on its way back to the city by police ranks attached to the Providence Police Station, but after a prolonged period of chanting in protest by the minibus operators the ranks released him.

His car which was parked outside his home was towed away to the station on Saturday.

Yesterday Benschop's attorney, Basil Williams pleaded with the inspector attached to Brickdam and he was released on his own recognisance, but before he could have left the station's compound he was arrested again. At that time the police requested a search of his car which they had towed on Saturday.

Benschop was later released on $20,000 bail and is to appear in court today.

Benschop is alleging that he has lost one laptop computer, one Sony video camera, one cellular phone, one video title maker, one VCR and three boxes of blank video tapes. He told Stabroek News that he had all of the items concealed in his car trunk which was parked in front of his Laluni Street home and which was towed away without his consent. He has estimated the items at some $500,000. (Nigel Williams)