COVID-19: Minibus operators want increase in fares


Some minibus operators are calling for an increase in fares following measures announced by the Ministry of Public Health to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in Guyana.

Despite the price reduction for gasoline at the state-owned Guyoil, the minibus operators say they cannot earn enough by carrying only half the amount of passengers they are licensed to transport.

Some of these operators spoke out when the News Room engaged them about the changes.

“We could follow the guidelines but it’s also on the public to help; the gas price dropped but not everyone uses Guyoil gas,” one Georgetown minibus operator said.

Minibus conductors soliciting passengers at the Georgetown bus park [Photo: News Room]
“I don’t mind carrying the seven or eight but if the passengers of themselves understand the situation can give us at least $160 or so to help it would be nice; it helps both us and them out.”

Operators who run the East Bank Demerara spoke of the hardships faced as a result of dealing with reduced commuters following both the closure of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the new guidelines.

A minibus driver who plies the ‘Back Road’ route

“Right now they want us to fetch two in a seat as a result of social distancing and we have no problem with that,” driver David Wilkinson said.

“But if they could raise our fare from $300 to $400 I won’t mind because even though the gas dropped, the airport shut off and most workers shut off on the East Bank so it poses a problem for us,” he stated.

Another driver said having to deal with the challenges stemming from a seemingly never-ending elections cycle and Covid-19 is too much for him as it greatly hurts his ability to provide for his children.

“I’m very frustrated because of my children. I’m not thinking about anything else.

“How will we deal with not having a government and now this virus? Something needs to be done,” the driver said.

“I’m one of the persons that would carry seven, but oh my, sometimes on my way back from Golden Grove I can hardly get two.

A minibus operator who plies the Golden Grove, EBD route [Photo: News Room]
“We can’t live like this. My daughter just asked me to buy fruits and other her necessities but where will I get this money?”

The News Room also spoke with President of the United Minibus Union, Eon Andrews, who expressed full support for the COVID-19 guidelines but still believes that there are issues to take into consideration as to how the new guidelines will affect different operators.

“We’re advising our people that they ought not to increase fares because we must be our brother’s keeper. But then again operators taking half of what they usually carry can’t work for all types of busses.

“Three seat buses will be able to carry 7 but the 14 seat buses will be able to carry 9 in keeping with social distancing guidelines,” Andrews said.

“I don’t know if operators who will be at a disadvantage, like the ones who pay tolls at the Berbice River and Demerara Harbor bridges, can probably have some kind of ease from government and or commuters to make it easier.

“But we all collectively we have to come up with a plan.”




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