Skyrocketing fuel prices…calls for meeting with Govt… as Corentyne hire car drivers seek 40% increaseThe President of the United Minibus Union (UMU), supported by leaders and representatives of several minibus routes, on Friday threatened to hike public transport fares as they plan to meet with the Government to decide a way forward, as fuel prices continue to escalate.President of the Association, Eon James, said plans are being put in place to meet with subject Minister, Dominic Gaskin, to draft a way forward.James noted that the Union would be unwilling to lower the proposed fare hike even if the price for gasoline decreased, since they are faced with many burdensome expenditures, which are also compounded by the fluctuating gasFrom right: James Cowsil, head of the 32 minibus zone; Eon James, President of the UMU; and Sookdeo Singh, a representative of the 44 minibus zoneprices.“The prices that we would have agreed to must remain the same… until such time we negotiate anything further. I say that to mean that it is not for the minibus union and its members and I think that the minibus industry to just decide that they must and should just raise fares. We think that there must be discussions. Things must be done in a civil manner,” James explained.It was further noted that he was made aware of the fact that drivers and conductors of the buses being used for public transportation have been overloading the busses with passengers, which they are afraid may very well become a norm if the Government does not step in and agree to the proposed hike of $20 and as much as $40 in some routes.The President of the Union, who represented 13 routes, on Friday however did not hesitate to announce that these proposed fares are not to be implemented by the drivers, until the Government would have agreed.James pointed out that the proposed hike for transportation fares comes as a result of drivers complaining bitterly about their livelihood being adversely affected by the climbing fuel prices. The drivers also said they are also burdened with the new hefty prices they are being made to pay for their licences, fitness for the vehicles, other necessary documentation, in addition and maintenance of the vehicles, which remains a major burden especially since Government recently took a decision to ban the use of used tyres.The Union asserted that they will continue protest action until a resolution is made to the burdensome issue they are forced to cope with. On Thursday, minibus operators who ply their trade at various routes along the Georgetown to Mahaica, East Coast Demerara route continued their strike action, demanding that Government give immediate attention to the rising fuel prices.As a result of the increase in fuel prices, a group of irate minibus operators on Thursday morning blocked the Vryheid’s Lust access junction along the East Coast railway embankment. There, several tyres were burnt, and an old car was set on fire to garner the attention needed with the hope of addressing the situation.The minibus operators posited that they were adversely affected by the sudden hike in the price for gasoline and diesel at gas stations across the country.They said too that they are already struggling to run profitable enterprises when one looks at the various expenses they are faced with on a daily basis.Others said over 100 minibuses are supporting the strike action while others are finding it difficult to physically support the action because of their dire financial situation.Gas station prices for fuel have increased rapidly from $215 per litre last week to prices ranging from $230 to $250 per litre this week.That situation continues as the Government remains indifferent and mum on the matter. Nevertheless, the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Thursday issued claims of price structures which appeared to be cheaper than what recent reports suggest.This comes after the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana urged Government to act swiftly on the matter.On Wednesday, the trade union 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.