No new speedboat fares approved – Min. Edghill

Speedboat owners and operators serving the routes of Vreed-en-hoop, Parika, Bartica, and Supenaam have been sternly reminded by the government that any unauthorized fare increases will not be tolerated.

Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill, emphasised the government’s position during a meeting with speedboat operators from these routes, held early Tuesday morning.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar meeting with speedboat operators and owners at the Supenaam Stelling

“The government has not approved any increase of fares and from tomorrow morning every passenger travelling 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.

He warned that operators caught charging unauthorised fares would face the termination of their licenses.

Minister Edghill clarified that while fares had been temporarily increased during the COVID-19 pandemic to cover operational costs related to social distancing measures, these increases were no longer justified.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill meeting with speedboat operators and owners at the Bartica Stelling

Further, the debunked claims that increased gasoline prices were driving fare hikes, citing various government initiatives aimed at cushioning the high cost of living for citizens.

He said, “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 don’t go up and the government is foregoing the cost of water so that you don’t have to have an increased water bill.”

During the engagement, it was also discovered that operators were exploiting the turn system.

A turn system is the order in which passengers are loaded onto the water taxis.

It was revealed that boat owners and operators have been marking spots with boats that are not operational.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill meeting with speedboat operators and owners at the Parika Stelling

Condemning the manipulation of spots by inactive boats, the minister said, “We cant 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 a honest decent living cant get in the system.”

As a result, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) has been tasked with verifying the documents and operational status of all boat owners and operators.

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.

These measures, according to the minister, aim to safeguard the lives of passengers utilising public transportation services.

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.

Meanwhile, the Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, pledged to conduct follow-up engagements to ensure adherence to the stipulated measures.

The government’s firm stance underscores its commitment to regulating the speedboat transportation sector to prioritise passenger safety and fair pricing practices.