Reduce fuel price or increase fares- East Coast minibus operators

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Minibus drivers on the East Coast of Demerara are demanding that the Government intervene to reduce the price of fuel or they will increase their fares.

A number of operators plying the number 44 route today continued their protest action while others blocked the railway embankment.

They provided a proposal which outlined that short drop prices should be increased from $80 to $100 from Georgetown to Buxton, $140 to $180 from Melanie to Georgetown, $160 to $200 from Victoria to Georgetown, $180 to $220 from Ann’s Grove to Georgetown and from $240 to $280 for the Georgetown- Mahaica route.

The minibus operators who parked their vehicles at the Lusignan Tarmac for the second day told News Room that after buying fuel, they can no longer make a profit from the current fares to take care of their families.

They also highlighted that the recent ban on used tyres also adds to their financial burden.

Vickask Ramlall said he has three children, ages 2, 4 and 8 and cannot afford to maintain his family on the little money that remains after purchasing fuel.

Vickash Ramlall

While the men are threatening to raise their fares, Wesley Jacobs, another operator said: “we don’t want to pressure anybody because we understand it get most people does catch bus (but) if the gas drop, we have no problem leaving the fare at that price.”

Jaffar Huntley pointed out that “as for now, the gas keep going up and everyday gas is raising.”

The price for fuel and diesel has been increasing every day for the past couple of weeks as a result of rising oil prices on the international market.

The Guyana Oil company was selling gasoline for $230 per litre, while Rubis was selling for $235 per litre and $239 at Shell gas stations. Diesel is retailed at $214 per litre at GuyOil, $227 at Rubis and $233 at Shell.

On Wednesday, oil price was at US$76 per barrel.

Leroy Murphy, a driver for some 37 years, told News Room that the minibuses on the East Coast are not represented by an association. He said efforts are being made to form an association which can better plead their cause.

Leroy Murphy

“When you check Timehri, Parika and then you come along the East Coast, from Belfield to Georgetown, let them check the mileage and let them readjust the fares for east coast drivers. We ain’t calling for much, we ain’t killing nobody, if a $20 or a $40 more.”

At around midday, another set of persons blocked the road at Vryheids Lust on the railway embankment with the shell of a car, tyres and other debris. The items were later removed by the police.

Some of the debris used to block the road

The operators vowed to continue striking until the price of fuel is reduced.

Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, (PSC), Eddie Boyer on Wednesday said it is time the Government step in to address the issue by reducing the tax on fuel imports.

In a statement on Thursday, the government argued the state-owned oil company, GuyOil is retailing at the cheapest price.

The Government said as an importer, Guyana has historically been vulnerable to oil price shocks, noting that World prices have shot up in recent weeks mainly due to the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.

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