Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Atrocious service by Mandeville busman

Published:Friday | March 13, 2015 | 11:03 PMKevonn Grant

KEVONN GRANT

Student, Northern Caribbean University

President, United Student Movement

It's slavery all over again! But this time, by our own people!

On a Sunday evening, my companion and I were travelling from Spanish Town to Mandeville in a public passenger vehicle. As is customary, the driver permits the individual who loads or ushers passengers into the vehicle to overload the bus, having five per row in the case of a 30-seater bus and four per row (in our case that night) in a minibus.

Usually, passengers just go with the flow and even defend this practice, and that was the case that evening. But something bad happened not too far away from the bus park from which we departed. A tall female passenger, robustly built, seated in the back row of the bus, began to feel so uncomfortable that she fell sick. She expressed that her feet were becoming numb and that she began to feel nauseated.

Desperately, she cried to the driver: "Please pull over, so that I can stretch my legs and get some air!" The driver did not honour the request.

Concerned individuals began to scavenge for even a piece of mint to give to the lady to help with the nausea while cries, including from myself, to pull over were rejected.

We were on the toll road, and I asked the passenger sitting closest to the handle of the back door to open it as soon as the bus pulled into the toll booth. When we came to a stop and the ill lady got her chance to refresh herself, individuals in the front row expressed irritating comments such as: "Come on, time is money and money is time!"

Meanwhile, the driver bickered, uttering expletives, angry about passengers wanting him to stop by the side of the toll road.

While I can agree that these are uncertain times in which unscrupulous individuals will attack and rob persons, I believe that a choice between pulling over at a random spot on the toll road should not have been an issue for this simple reason: We would not have to contend with deciding whether or not to run the risk of losing our lives and/or valuables and possibly saving a life if in the first place the bus was not over packed.

It is interesting how this happened during Black History Month, a month in which we should reminisce how many slave lives were lost even before they arrived in Jamaica to experience the brutality meted by overseers!

Yet the same descendants of these slaves find it necessary and okay to pack their buses like sardine tins so that they can make a few extra dollars. The groans of uncomfortable passengers mean nothing to them; the cries for a moment to refresh themselves ignored; and, in my case, passengers frequently are required to sit in positions that result in the numbing of legs.

This is a disgrace: Humans are ironically very inhumane.

I challenge the individuals with authority to do so to put a stop to this practice before someone loses their life or a body part (if it hasn't already happened) because of the overloading of buses.

Please, police officers: Ticket busmen for overloading their buses. Please transport authorities, demand that buses be loaded according to their specified maximum seating. Passengers: Let's refuse to sit in a vehicle wherein you know you will be uncomfortable!

Let's make the necessary steps, at all reasonable costs, to make Jamaica a more humanitarian society.