Minibus Union submits proposal for fare increase to Govt
President of the United Minibus Union (UMU), Eon Andrews, has submitted to the Ministry of Business a proposal intended to address the several woes of minibus operators.United Minibus Union President Eon AndrewsAndrews told Guyana Times that the proposal for a fare increase, among other things, was submitted to Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin on Monday.“We are saying that, ‘Yes, there are increases in many other things’. We are not basing our argument on fuel, because we don’t control that in this country,” he said on Monday. He said the union is engaging the Government so that the costs of several documents needed by motorists can be decreased.Along with the proposal for a fare increase, the UMU president noted that a proposal was also made for removal of the ban placed on used tyres among other things, so as to reduce the high maintenance costs of the vehicles.“We did not really like the idea of the new tyres, because they only lasting like six months, and they’re very expensive. We want to look at the tyres. There were a lot of 100 per cent increases in the last budget, you know, interest tax, licence, everything; (so we want to know) how they’re going to be able to help us. If they could reduce certain things, it would ease (the strain on persons), because we are more concerned that the consumer doesn’t have to carry this load,” the UMU head explained.Andrews expressed confidence the minister would look into the woes of minibus operators in a timely manner, given that the subject is in the spotlight. He, however, pointed out that if the minister does not give a response in a timely manner, he is certain that minibus operators, and even taxi drivers, would continue to strike.Fuel increaseThe cost of gasoline has significantly increased over the past few weeks, and countrywide, minibus drivers are protesting for an increase in fares, and are even demanding the same from commuters.Guyana Times understands that some drivers have been pasting notices in their vehicles demanding fare increase by as much as $40, and the NMU president has expressed views against this act.A much concerned Andrews said he understands that drivers operate in a free-market system, and so persons who are not willing to pay the increase will now have to make the decision to pay the increase or wait for law-abiding drivers.It was communicated earlier this month that minibus operators are unwilling to lower the proposed fare hike of $20 or $40 even if the price for gasoline is decreased, because they are faced with many burdensome expenditures, which are compounded by the fluctuating gas prices.Desperate to get the attention they need, drivers blocked the Vryheid’s Lust access road along the East Coast railway embankment. Several tyres were burnt, and an old car was set on fire to garner the attention needed, with the hope of having the fuel crisis addressed.Several protests were also organised by drivers of the various routes subsequent to this incident.Gas station prices for fuel have increased rapidly, from $215 per litre to prices ranging from $230 to $250 per litre.That situation continues as the Government remains indifferent and mum on the matter. Nevertheless, the Department of Public Information (DPI) has issued claims of price structures which appeared to be cheaper than what recent reports suggest.This came after the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) urged Government to act swiftly on the matter. The trade union body has said this sudden hike in fuel prices will burden consumers. In a strongly worded statement to the media, the union said Government must stop “turning a blind eye to what is taking place” and proactively act in the interest of people.However, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin had disclosed that the matter was still to be addressed by Cabinet.