Linden hire car drivers strike to keep “double” fares
Hire car drivers in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) commenced strike action in the community on Wednesday over a proposal by the regional authorities to have them revert to charging the regular fares for transportation.
The drivers who are popularly known as the $100 car operators, who operate within Linden, and those who ply the Linden-Georgetown route had increased their fares because their passenger capacity had been reduced to 75 percent based on COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
However, in light of Government’s decision to allow public transportation to return to full passenger capacity, the regional authorities have urged Linden drivers to revert to charging their original fares.
The $100 car operators had reportedly doubled their fares, and increases were also noted with some vehicles travelling from Linden to Georgetown. Passengers were left stranded in the community on Wednesday after the operators refused to work, but remained parked.
According to some of these drivers, the main concern is the move to return to the normal capacity, owing to COVID-19 fears.
The Regional Democratic Council (RDC), in a recent statement, urged operators to reduce their fares.
“The Regional Democratic Council has noted the provisions outlined by Government in the Official Gazette of December 30th, 2020, where it is ordered that: ‘any person who provides public transportation within Guyana, whether by land, water or air, may carry the number of passengers which the motor vehicle is licensed to carry, and shall comply with the measures under paragraph 12’ (which states that each passenger MUST wear a face mask).”
The RDC added that it had taken note that operators of hire cars and buses had raised their fares in the face of having to carry a reduced number of passengers, but they are now authorised to carry their full complement of passengers.
“Our nurses, teachers, students, and indeed all residents, have borne these increased charges for many months now, and since the Government has decided to allow public transportation providers to return their operations to normal, it is only fair that the transportation charges are returned to normal as well. As such, the Council urges those persons providing public transportation to return to the original transportation charges immediately,” the statement read.
The RDC also urged residents to continue to practise social distancing where possible, to wear a face mask as well as to wash or sanitise their hands frequently, while respecting all COVID-19 guidelines as established by the Health Ministry.
The increase in transportation fares in the community has also engaged the attention of the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC). Senior citizens in particular were negatively impacted, and had complained about the steep increase in fares in Linden. (G13)