UMU President accuses City Hall of fearmongering
By Stacy Carmichael-James
The reported $12,000 monthly for minibus parking in the capital city to be implemented by City Hall has raised numerous questions for the United Minibus Union (UMU) President Eon Andrews.
Andrews during a recent interview with News Room rejected claims that City Hall consulted with the minibus operators since as President of the UMU he was never informed of any such consultations regarding the enforcement of the payment. He noted too that he would have gotten word since UMU represents all zones except for Lethem, Mahdia and other far-flung areas. The fact that the Traffic Department never initiated such a system is also being questioned.
He is questioning the logic behind this and has accused City Hall of fearmongering to have their way, without properly consulting the operators, their representatives and the wider public, who would suffer from the trickledown effect of such an imposition.
According to Andrews a lot of people do not own these buses and have to meet certain targets. He is contending that anytime City Hall puts a price to parking then owners would reconsider since no one gets into business unless they are making money and if anything is to be added to their expenses they will pass it down to the public.
Minibuses, the UMU President said, are basically a poor man’s transportation. The “hot plate” buses continue to pose a problem for the other buses that have to wait in line said Andrews, who is contending that the only buses making the money are those that engage in “hot plating” and belong to police officers or affluent persons. “Are you thinking about the poor people? he asked of City Hall officials.
The same, he noted can be said for the vendors, who have been displaced since the advent of the Parking Meter System.
“All of a sudden these itinerant vendors…suddenly you come and sort of throw them out and people wondering why, then next thing you know, yellow lines start being painted, which means you are displacing itinerant vendors…they have a lot of responsibilities…where are you telling them they have to go now?”
Andrews highlighted that vendors were told they have to pay City Hall $1, 500 per week and they will be given a badge and must also report to City Hall, so that officials could know where they are selling “and if you have to move from spot A to spot B you have to report to them or else you could get yourself in trouble.” He said vending occurs in areas where there are the greatest sales. Andrews believes this strategy is a ploy so that vendors will not be able to occupy the busy spots, allowing City Hall to place the Parking meters there.