River taxis commissioned – to offer free service to students, pensioners in Regions Five, Six
Free transportation for school children and old-age pensioners from Rosignol, Region Five to New Amsterdam, Region Six has been reconvened via river taxis. This comes on the heels of a request made by residents to Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, during a recent outreach to the region.
The service will be accessible from Monday, May 30, between 7 and 9 am and from 3 to 5 pm weekdays. Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, M.P, on Friday commissioned two boats at the New Amsterdam Transport and Harbour Stelling.
“Our children in uniform attending school will travel for free. Our government pensioners which are our respected elders and senior citizens, government pensioners, strictly old age pensioners are able to also use the service for free,” the Minister stated.
Hundreds of students are expected to benefit from the service after a hiatus of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Persons who wish to take advantage of the service will be able to do so at a cost of $140, Minister Edghill said.
The boats, engines and the New Amsterdam and Rosignol Stellings were refurbished to ensure the safety of travellers.
However, despite the service being free to a select group, Minister Edghill said it will be subsidised by government as it will cost about $25,000 per day to operate. Nevertheless, he said, it is an investment government is making to ensure every child has access to education.
“We want to ensure that all of our school children are able to get to school on a daily basis. Government has made significant interventions in terms of providing school uniforms; they have their text books, they have trained teachers, they have furniture in the school, they have the feeding programme, and here again in Regions Five, Region Six corridor, another intervention is to continue a service that was there but was suspended,” he noted.
Subsequently, the minister met with minibus and taxi operators in Rosignol and assured them that the service being reintroduced will not affect their livelihood. The concern by the operators were that they would not be able to make a living since government will be providing a free service. That misunderstanding was addressed by Minister Edghill.
“During the operation of seven to nine and three to five in the afternoon, persons who want to use the service, apart from pensioners and school children will have to pay $140 to Transport and Harbour for the trip. So, your great concern of once the service starts operating, that you cannot operate is already out of the window. We have replaced it to what is known as status quo ante, just as it was before.”
During the meeting with the Minister, the operators expressed their satisfaction knowing that their daily bread have not been taken away.
Regional Chairman of Region Six, David Armogan and General Manager of the Transport and Harbours’ Department, Marcelene Merchant were also present at the simple ceremony.