The United Minibus Union (UMU) has agreed to propose to its membership, the adoption of a draft Code of Conduct for minibus operators countrywide. Representatives of the Union and several associations met on Wednesday (October 25), with Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, to discuss aspects of the proposed code as well as concerns raised by consumers pertaining to the daily operation of minibuses. Minister Gaskin told the bus operators that it is important for the union, police and government to work together to address matters related to the mini bus operations in the country.
Highlighting grievances expressed by consumers, Ms. Muriel Tinnis, Director of the Consumer Affairs Department within the Ministry of Business, told the minibus operators that there continues to be complaints of speeding, touting and overloading of buses. She pointed out that one of the major complaints received, was that of overcharging, particularly within routes. There were also complaints that operators for certain routes, charge passengers a higher fare at nights.
In response, Mr. Eon Andrews, President of the United Mini Bus Union, said many of the concerns expressed by consumers are justified. He expressed optimism that the Code of Conduct will address the issue of touting and overloading. He added that it is important that the legal issues be separated from the consumer issues, since the Guyana Police Force is mandated to maintain the law, adding that many of the complaints are legal matters. The President recommended mandatory training for conductors, as well as colour coding for busses. The idea of a code of conduct was also supported by Mr. Dennis Chesney, President of the Berbice River Branch Mini Bus Owners Association. Chesney said his union has already implemented some aspects of the code and he hopes all operators will follow suit. Superintendent Dennis Stephens, Deputy Traffic Chief, also attended the meeting. He underscored that the problem of touting persists because minibus drivers and conductors encourage it. He urged the operators to utilize the model used by the Berbice Association, which he said, has been very effective. Superintendent Stephens also pointed out that congestion continues to be a problem because of the large number of buses and the limited parking space available. The Code of Conduct addresses issues such as customer service, health and safety, licensing and compliance and the general operation of buses. The union will discuss the draft of the Code of Conduct presented by the Ministry with its membership and sign on once there is consensus. Meanwhile the Consumer Affairs Department is working on an implementation plan for the code of conduct. The department will continue to engage the Union on matters that arise.