Govt has not approved new speedboat fares – Edghill

…unauthorised changes will result in termination of licenses

The Government has not approved new fares for water taxi service being provided in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Vreed-en-Hoop and Parika, Region three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Bartica Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill engaging boat operators and owners

During engagements on Tuesday with speedboat owners and operators serving the routes aforementioned, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill sternly reminded that any unauthorized fare increases will not be tolerated.
The authorised fare structure provides for travel from Bartica to Parika or vice versa to be $2500 while from Parika to Supenaam and vice versa is $1300.
However, in some cases, operators are charging passengers more. Some are imposing rates that were applied during the Covid-19 pandemic when there were restrictions to their load capacity in keeping with social distancing regulations.
But the Ministers have since urged the operators to desist from this practice, warning that failure to do so could result in their licences being revoked.
“The government has not approved any increase of fares and from tomorrow morning every passenger travelling from Supenaam or Parika using this service will pay the approved fare”.
“The government cannot be toothless and be taken advantage of, and within the next 24 hours MARAD will put up a sign board advising passengers of the fares,” he sternly asserted.

Further, it was revealed that several operators were exploiting the turn system by not adhering to the turn system, which determines how passengers are loaded onto the water taxis.
According to reports, boat owners and operators have been marking spots with boats that are not operational, thus boycotting the system and preventing others from working more days.
In response, Minister Edghill tasked the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) with verifying the documents and operational status of all boat owners and operators in the various areas.
Further, the debunked claims that increased gasoline prices were driving fare hikes, therefore forcing boat operators to take action.
“The government of Guyana is foregoing taxes so that you can get gasoline at a reduced price. The government is foregoing the cost of electricity so that your light bill doesn’t go up and the government is foregoing the cost of water so that you don’t have to have an increased water bill”.
“We can’t have a mafia running the system where a few people own boats and they are manipulating the system, and other people who want to make an honest decent living can’t get in the system,” he added.
Additionally, measures
Impromptu inspections will also be conducted on all boats to ensure they are safe and river-worthy. Operators who fail to comply with inspections or lack up-to-date certification will be prohibited from operating until they rectify their status.
Additionally, operators were instructed to revive their association within two weeks to ensure compliance and order within the industry.
Another key measure being implemented is the random testing of boat operators for alcohol and drug consumption, with licenses to be terminated for those who test positive.
These measures, according to the Minister, aim to safeguard the lives of passengers utilising public transportation services.
“I am not just doing it for the water taxis, I am doing it for all of Transport and Harbour Staff, all the captains and everybody who driving boat because we have had too many accidents and too many shortfalls. We got to improve safety,” the Minister explained. (G1)