The bordering town of Corriverton is known for the Tapir vehicle. The vehicles which were locally made were mostly used as a means of public transportation. Today, the signature vehicle of Corriverton is fast becoming extinct.
Passengers who once craved to travel in the wagon-typed vehicles, are now shunning them. According to some residents of that town, cars are more comfortable. “If you have a child, dey want de child sit on you lap an you still have to pay for the child,” a 29-year-old female told this publication.
She said as a result of a bad experience, she will not be going into Tapirs again. “Tapir make me think twice about wearing a short dress or skirt…”
With the introduction of hire cars in Corriverton, Suschilla (only name given) says she is able to travel alone.
The vehicles were locally manufactured at Associated Industries Limited (AINLIM) in Georgetown during the 1970s and later on, parts were fabricated by fabricators in Corriverton.
According to one of AINLIM former assemblers, Patrick D’ Andrea, 66, who now resides in Canada, the vehicles were designed by the British for basic transportation in the 1970s.
He said AILIM stopped production because they were not allowed to import parts into the country under the Burnham Administration. “When the first Tapir was completed, it was a happy and sad day because on testing, the vehicle driver died; Terry Mark, his death was of no fault of the Tapir but his own. He applied more speed than the vehicle could handle… it toppled causing his death.”
Meanwhile, some Tapir owners explained that the vehicles were relatively cheap during the 1980s.
Owners of Tapirs in order to stay in the transportation business were forced to equip themselves with modern vehicles.
One operator, Ganesh “Bama” Bola of Crabwood Creek, who operated a Tapir for 22 years, said in recent years operators were forced to modernise those vehicles, by tinting the windows and windshield, raising the back of the vehicle and having defining music. While passengers craved for these changes, it made their ride more strenuous as they were being forced to bend more forward to see where they were going.
The once popular Tapirs started to lose popularity around 2007, forcing some operators out of business. Others realised they had to modernise in order to stay in business.
Tapirs were only used on the Upper Corentyne and transported passengers between Number 50 Village and Molson Creek between 1981 and 2006. When hire cars started to be introduced into the system, they slowly took over the transportation industry in Corriverton.
Another Tapir owner, Sunil Dhanie of Crabwood Creek, said he can no longer use that vehicle to transport passengers. According to the 40-year-old, he has been in the business since 1984. “I just using it for private since dem passengers refuse to travel in the Tapir.” He now operates a car.
In Corriverton, while a few Tapirs still operate, today passengers can be seen saying no to Tapir operators and at the same time trying to get a car to stop for them.
Dayram “Star Black” Kawlasar, who owned three Tapirs, says adults started to refuse to travel in the Tapirs by 2007. However today he still operates two but only to transport children to and from school.
The first car to operate as a public means of transportation was HB 6434. According to that operator, persons started showing a preference for his car. “The passengers demand grew and other car owners followed.”
Today, Corriverton’s roads looks more like the other towns in Guyana apart from the periodic passing of a ‘Corrriverton Tapir’.