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Minibus fares to increase from September 1; code of conduct in the making

Minibus fares on all routes are to be increased by GY$20 from September 1, 2018, even as the Ministry of Business and  the United Minibus Union (UMU) agreed to hammer out a code of conduct for operators, government and the union said in a statement.

“The two parties urge both operators and consumers to adhere to the new fare structure which will become effective on September 1st 2018,” the Ministry of Business and the UMU. The decision was taken on August 9, 2018 after the two sides agreed that an “across-the-board fare increase for minibus operators was appropriate at this time.”

President of the GMU, Eon Andrews told Demerara Waves on Tuesday morning that the fare structure would have to be posted on minibuses in keeping with the law to ensure that commuters are not exploited. “That is to at least let the travelling public not be exploited because some operators who suddenly jump 50 and 60 dollars and are bullying the people will have to come down to that 20 dollars,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

The Business Ministry would draft the new fare structure and make it available to UMU for circulation to its members. ‘Minibus operators are required by law to display the fare structure in all buses,” they said.

Andrews said the fare increase, the first since 2014, took into consideration the cost of fuel, lubricants and other operational costs in demonstrating the need for an increase. “First, they had nothing. It is not a finality. While we are negotiating and looking at other parameters it is a shift, at least there is movement, at least we recognise that they deserve an increase,” he said.

The Minibus Union and government, according to the union, are discussing a code of conduct that might require bus operators to undergo a stipulated period of training to include the manner in which they speak with commuters. He said they could soon be expected to wear uniforms like those being worn by the University of Guyana minibus operators. Andrews said the code might have to be backed up by a law.  “Some of these things may be legislated.. there must be an agreement to have enforcement,” he said.

The Business Ministry and the Union said “both parties also agreed on the need for an established code of conduct for minibus operators, and to continue their engagement on this matter.  The need for proper enforcement was also discussed and there was consensus that this needed to be urgently addressed with the relevant authorities”.

The recently-held 20th Biennial Delegates Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the major party in the governing coalition, did not approve a motion for the establishment of a Transportation Authority to help stamp out chaos and discrimination by some public transportation providers.

Commuters are often left behind because they are children, too old and slow, fat, blind or otherwise physically incapacitated. Drivers and operators sometimes are discourteous when commuters ask them to lower the volume of the bus or express concern about deviating from the prescribed route.