Union calls for monitors, mandatory training of minibus drivers
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President of the United Minibus Union, Eon Andrews (left) and other union executives met with the Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Oneidge Walrond, (right) last Tuesday
President of the United Minibus Union, Eon Andrews (left) and other union executives met with the Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Oneidge Walrond, (right) last Tuesday

By Tamica Garnett
WITH many minibus operators continuing to operate as a law unto themselves notwithstanding the implementation of the “Minibus Code of Conduct”, the United Minibus Union (UMU) said it will be lobbying to have minibus operators be required to undergo training before receiving their licences.
The union is also calling for the implementation of full-time bus park monitors at all the bus parks in the City.

A section of the Kitty/Campbellville bus park at the Stabroek Market

President of UMU, Eon Andrews, said the union will be speaking to the Mayor and City Council about the possibility of being granted the authorisation to institute full-time bus park monitors at all the bus parks in the City, as one means of trying to address the out-of-control minibus culture that currently exists.
Management of the bus parks come under the purview of the MCC, and while City Constables have at times played a role in intermittently monitoring the bus parks, finding the man power to permanently station persons at the park continues to be an issue for the municipality.
“If they give the union certain authority to manage the park, it means the bus operators will have to conform to certain union requirements before they will be allowed to enjoy the use of the parks,” Andrews emphasised.

Over the years commuters have been continually decrying the situation that they are subject to by minibus operators, which sees many of the buses overloading, playing unbearably loud music and speeding.

Andrews said that the union will also be approaching the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, about the possible implementation of a requirement that minibus drivers and conductors be trained before being allowed to get their licence to operate public transportation.
“There should be something that mandates that if you have not been trained as a safe driver along the lines of the “Code of Conduct”, then they ought not to be licensed to transport passengers, whose lives are in their hands,” Andrews reasoned.

“Our country is moving forward and we ought to confirm to national standards and we have to start now.”
Andrews and a team of executives from the union also, on Tuesday, met with Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Oneidge Walrond, at her South Road Office, where they entreat the ministry’s support in establishing a more structured minibus operation in Guyana.

SAFE SYSTEM
Minister Walrond committed to working with the union and other arms of the government to ensure an organised and safe system for the minibus operators and passengers. Also attending the meeting was Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Muriel Tinnis-Duke.
Following the meeting, in an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Andrews said that though happy for the minister’s support, handling the situation with the minibus drivers and conductors is a multi-sectoral issue, and the union will be looking to collaborate with the Georgetown MCC and Ministry of Home Affairs.
At many of the bus parks on the city, located mostly in the Stabroek area, passengers are often physically harassed by bus conductors and touts who force them into their buses, or hound passengers as they go about their business at the Stabroek area.
Additionally while a turn system is supposed to be implemented at each respective park, many of the buses stop or park illegally, to pick up passengers at unlawful stops. Police officers would also periodically be stationed at the parks to bring some order, however this is only done intermittently, during peak hours.
Andrews highlighted that the placement of permanent bus park monitors will work to alleviate this situation.
“We are trying to get formal permission from the City Council to be able to be responsible for monitoring these parks. Everyone would gain because they can be a fee that City Council ask for, and it would give the [Union] Chairmen of the bus routes more authority to pull things to order. The mayor made it clear that yes they would like something like that,” Andrews said.

RIGHT STEP
Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle, Mayor Narine confirmed that he believes that such a move would be a step in the right direction to bring some order to the chaos that prevails at most of the bus parks on a daily basis.

“I agree that there should be some kind of monitoring speaking of the present situation, the system should be implemented and they should pay us a revenue at the City level,” Narine said.
He explained that there needs to be a multi-sector stakeholder committee that includes the MCC so that a way forward can be mapped out.
Andrews noted that the union has already begun to implement unofficial monitoring systems at some of the bus parks, but is looking for an official arrangement with the MCC to be able to expand the coverage to all the parks.
“The 45 Bus Park has a very effective monitor there. He maintains the order and the buses have an arrangement with him where every trip they give him something,” Andrew noted, adding that:

“There is a monitor at the 32 Park at Parika and at Vreed-en-Hoop. They are members of the union and the buses have that same kind of arrangement where for every trip they give the monitor something. There are also cases like the Route 66 in Bartica and the UG Buses, which have made great strides.”

In 2019, to address the situation somewhat, the Department of Consumer Affairs launched the “Minibus Code of Conduct”, which was created by a multi-stakeholder committee that also included representatives from the union, the Guyana National Road Safety Council, and the Guyana Police Force Traffic Department.
The “Minibus Code of Conduct” was created as guide for both the minibus operators and passengers to reinforce awareness of already-existing laws that govern the operations of the minibuses. However, Andrews said that many of the bus operators still behave as a law unto themselves.

“There are those who have been adhering to the “Code of Conduct”, individually, but the greater percentage of these [bus service] providers are not conforming. They’re using every opportunity to defeat what is there. A lot of persons seek every avenue they can not to confirm to anything legal. The level of indiscipline is high,” Andrews said.
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Saved as: Minibus
Caption: President of the United Minibus Union, Eon Andrews (left) and other union executives met with the Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Oneidge Walrond, (right) last Tuesday
Saved as: minibus
Caption: A section of the Kitty/Campbellville bus park at the Stabroek Market

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