UG, Plaisance minibuses strike for $20 fare increase
March 25, 2003
Minibus operators plying the Georgetown/Plaisance route and some operators of the route between Georgetown and the University of Guyana, refused to work yesterday, as they pushed for increased fares.
The near all-day exercise left countless commuters stranded up to late yesterday evening, with many lining the pavements of the Avenue of the Republic near Regent Street, awaiting transportation while drivers and conductors stood by.
Some of the operators told Stabroek News that the strike was brought about by the recent increase in gasoline prices caused by higher acquisition costs for supplies from Trinidad and Tobago.
With the 25% drop in world oil prices last week the next shipments are expected to cost much less.
Yesterday operators said the increased fares, coupled with maintenance as well as other costs, could not be offset by their returns at the $40 per passenger rate, and therefore they were seeking a sanctioned $20 increase for their services.
One operator, Lennox Willings, added that fare hikes had been instituted but passengers were questioning the legitimacy of the increases, bringing about a need to enforce them and thus the strike. He also said that while operators did plan to return to work today, they would be expecting passengers to pay the new fares and they would be requesting payments before allowing commuters to enter, as was the law.
A check at other minibus parks revealed support by a small group of operators of Route 41 (Lodge-South\East-West), some of whom were absent by late afternoon. However, travel was not visibly affected by their actions.
Meanwhile acting President of the Guyana Public Transportation Association (GPTA), Compton Giddings told Stabroek News that his organisation was monitoring the increases in gasoline prices and would not hesitate to shut the city down, if the situation continued.
A committee had been established in January to review the 1999 minibus fare schedule following a meeting between the Ministry of Commerce and the operators, who had been seeking hikes in January when gas prices rose to as much as $475 per gallon at some stations.
Giddings said there had been negotiations but a new fare structure had not been agreed upon and, because of what he described as the ministry's vacillation on the issue, the GPTA had abandoned the talks.