Commuters outraged over situation at THD

Kaieteur News
January 1, 2007

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NEW AMSTERDAM, BERBICE – Some commuters using the Rosignol/New Amsterdam Ferry Stellings are perturbed over the situation existing there.

On Friday, Hubert Newton of Campbellville, arrived at the Rosignol Stelling at 12:50 hours. He was not able to get across the Berbice River to New Amsterdam until 19:20 hours.

“It was frustrating and secondly it should not have taken that long. The thing that was aggravating was that there were two lines and yet a number of vehicles were allowed to bypass the line and get on the vessels.

“We saw ten vehicles within that time that bypassed the line. I was told when I enquired that those vehicles have priority. That's what the Supervisor told me. But the President said that there is no priority. The Supervisor told me that after Mr. Jagdeo made that statement, it was changed and priority was given to GUYSUCO and Transport and Harbours vehicles.”

“I think they are taking bribes or some sort of payoff. It makes you believe that… how things were happening. There was a policeman out there; there was THD Security out there. The ones who call the vehicles there were the THD people and we have to line up and wait our turn. I asked the police rank about what was going on but he said that it was the responsibility of the THD.”

That incident was not the first for Mr. Newton. “I observed it several times. I travel to the Corentyne once a month. On Friday there were two lines, one with trucks and lorries and the other with cars and minibuses. Certain people who I am sure were not senior Government officials did not even join the line and they were allowed to go through. I lost a lot of time and my business was delayed from 12:50 to 19:20, over six hours before I could get across the river.

“What would happen when the visitors come for the Cricket World Cup?”

Mr. Newton also lashed out at the insanitary conditions both on the ferry and at the stellings. “That place reeks of urine. Yesterday (Sunday) I crossed on the first ferry and the place was filthy. The ferry, especially the bathroom, was filthy.”

Another driver remarked, “Look I fed up with this situation. Whether I complain or talk, the situation ain't gwine change! Is a racket going on at both stellings. I see on how many occasions when other drivers, especially them with money pull up, and just hand some money over the some of the THD Officials and they get in the boat in no time.

“They not going to just hand over the money in a way for everybody to see but they find a way to do it. At them stellings is not who you know but who know you and the small man does suffer.”

Many of the persons from whom views were solicited declined to reveal their identity. Some had a few good words to say about the Department but generally most of them are calling for an investigation into what they referred to as ‘full out corruption' at both stellings.

“Let me show you what going on here. This is Christmas time and everybody looking for a raise. Everybody trying to mek dey heights.”

A woman who had just disembarked from the vessel, said in an angry voice as she hurried along the Matthew Allen Road . “Look I don't own a vehicle, a car, nothing, but I does got to cross steady because I does go down to the GT ( Georgetown ) to buy me li'l things to sell up here ( New Amsterdam ).

Now I see people just bore the line and get on the boat and people who been in the line for hours still line up. This does happen more at Rosignol. Many times I deh in a minibus especially on Friday and you see the racket that going on.”

She too is of the view that complaining is a waste of time. “One day I see the man at New Amsterdam Stelling and a driver. This is what play out. The driver couldn't get on the pontoon because the line did long and he did just come. So what he do? He go up to the ticket collector, the same man I telling you about and rap with he. They start to laugh and pat mattie on the shoulder and the next thing I see is the driver pull in on the stelling with he car.

“He then find he way in the line that under the stelling shed going in the boat. When he done hand in he ticket and so, the THD man go up to the car and the driver pretend as if he shaking he hand and I see when he put some money in the THD man hand. The money did fold up and then the man tell he drive safe.

“Me ain't know how much so don't ask me but I see he tek bribe. This is not the first time. Them thing does happen almost ever day.”

This is what a resident who operates a car between Georgetown and New Amsterdam had to say. “The problem is that they do not sell the tickets in time. The truck line short and the car and minibus line very long and they still would carry the full amount of trucks and leave back the small vehicles. Business men just drive up and they get on the boat when the others got to stay in line. The big money passing and THD people saying that the people belong to the President. This happens at New Amsterdam and Rosignol.”

According to him the Supervisors should be rotated on a regular basis. “Another problem is that some people do not pay freight. There are three vessels sometimes and rather than touch and go they would wait because it means that when there is a long line, money got to pass. The highest bidder get on.

“I know a man pay $10,000 and get on and those in the line lef out. Is them kind of things we face with.”

He cited this incident, “Look yesterday (Saturday) a businessman from New Amsterdam pull up in he red 4X4, meet a long line, he ain't join the line yet and he gone in on the boat. He ain't got no priority. Everybody got a friend but they got to do things right. They got many problems down here.”

Further he said, “They should get a file with each person complaints, many days the line long long. Some of them just make phone calls and then you see them get on the boat and you still in the line. They never get change at the ticket booth, many times you got to buy your ticket and you got to go and leave some fine change with them.”

“About three months ago, a car from Stanleytown taking a sick woman down to town. He had to park next to a truck that the engine cannot turn off. They boat pack so tight that the woman start to suffocate. We had to pull the lady out through the window. My point is that there are times when the boat pack so tight that if anything happen, God help us all!”

When contacted a Supervisor at the Transport and Harbours Department responded, “Well it is the Christmas Season and all over the world there would be a build up of traffic. That is the reason we have a build up of traffic.”

When asked to comment on the allegation of corruption existing there, he said, “I cannot say anything about.”

Touching on priority, he explained that this service is open to all senior Government officials and other important people. “The President cannot say there is no priority when he still signing priority passes.”