Route 5 is one of the most in demand as it connects areas of the city with important services.

Photo: Leonel Escalona Furones/ Venceremos.

Time is running out, and Yadira Abad Ramos has been waiting impatiently for the bus on Route 5 for more than two hours, on Pedro Agustín Pérez street between Pintó and La Avenida.

Three (empty) buses have passed, one after the other and they continue long, the stop for their drivers does not exist, "on the contrary, once they are close they speed up as if to inform them that they have finished their journey, today's, says the person who wants to arrive angrily to his destiny.

The queue is short, without crowds like months ago - Yadira points out and explains: "People don't stop for long at the stops, why...? Totally, there is no stability in urban transport.

We were confident that with the rented buses the situation would change, but the truth is that the panorama is worse and increasingly complex for those of us who depend on public transport.

Daniel Pelegrín, who is listening to the conversation next to him, considers that the organization and control of compliance with the contracts have failed a lot: “The 'new owners' of the buses do work for rent on interprovincial trips or to specific places, however, they are very few who support the routes of the city, so I appreciate it”.

"And will there be a contract for urban transportation?", -without hiding the irony another citizen intervenes, who prefers anonymity-.

“The buses, with the leased sign, which seems more like a joke than information to the public, wander empty throughout the city, without picking up anyone.

Who controls them?

Where are they going? ”, He asks himself, while he signals to a motorcycle and sentences:“ This (the motorcycle) is the best option for passengers, but not everyone can afford it ”, he laments.

On the other side of the city, in the Caribe neighborhood, opinions coincide and the stops are more crowded.

In the crowd there are medical students, high school students and a nurse who, apparently, is finishing her shift at the Doctor Agostinho Neto General Hospital.

“I live in the Santa María neighborhood, and for me it is an odyssey to travel.

I suffer a lot from this situation, because after having 12 hours of work in the ward, I have to face the problem of going home and resting.

Although it may seem an exaggeration, I have been waiting for a bus for up to four hours, because the truth is that there are few transportation alternatives in that area, and one cannot always pay private individuals,” the nurse comments with obvious disgust.

“Sometimes there are many vehicles for other routes: vans, rented buses, cars..., which cover the trips to the center of the city, but towards the Obrero and Santa María neighborhoods... Waiting for a bus on this itinerary requires a lot of patience, too much patience, I would say.

Some alternative to this problem must be articulated, better organize schedules and routes, because this situation is unsustainable for the worker who, in addition, must deal with multiple other problems and expenses that we all know about, ”he emphasizes.

Yadira Abad believes that rented buses have not changed the transportation situation, the panorama for those who commute daily in the city is becoming more and more complex.

Photo: Leonel Escalona Furones/ Venceremos.

Availability or real unavailability?

“Of the 74 existing teams in the vehicle park of the Base Business Unit (UEB), of Ómnibus Urbanos, in the municipality of Guantánamo, only 45 percent are available to cover eight of the 11 routes within the city and the from peripheral communities such as Paraguay, Cecilia, Maqueicito, Maquey, La Jabilla, Boquerón, Cayamo and Hatibonico”, explains Rubén Pico Judines, director of the entity.

"There are also vehicles belonging to organizations from other sectors and companies that support the movement of people in the city," he adds.

“We also have four vans from the private sector that reinforce itineraries that connect areas with important services and a large amount of population flow, such as the Vocational Park destination.

But all that is still insufficient”, acknowledges the manager.

"At the moment we only have one vehicle for each of these routes: 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9, and the work is organized to try to stabilize it, mainly at peak times, but it is deficient due to the demand for mobility in the city”, he considers.

“Under Resolution 207 of 2021, we leased 26 buses that were paralyzed, to be put into operation due to the new forms of non-state management.

Of them, 19 have an operating license for passenger transport, which should solve citizen transportation a little, in the midst of the worst crisis in the sector in the last two decades, but in reality it is not like that.

“We implemented the regulations because there were many state entities with underutilized means of transportation, and that when leased can provide passenger and cargo transportation services to natural and legal persons.

The alternative sought to increase the number of cars and the frequency of trips.

"The price of the leased buses is five pesos, and among their contractual obligations is to provide services on the routes, with three trips in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon, and once they comply with this they are free to make other tasks that increase their income”, he points out.

Due to replacement of tires, shortage of spare parts, batteries and other inputs, some thirty buses are parked in the UEB.

Photo: Leonel Escalona Furones/ Venceremos.

Pico Judines admits the deficiencies that persist in urban transportation: drivers who fail to comply with schedules, circulation of empty leased buses, and ensures that the pertinent analyzes have been carried out from the sector and the Municipal Administration Council, but certainly the problems persist for lack of sensitivity, since some drivers prefer to transport to places that generate more income.

"Inspections, intermittent control exercises, as well as the review of contract compliance control mechanisms have been ways used to eradicate these practices that so harm public welfare," says the director and adds: "Even, The possibility of rescinding contracts is alerted if violations of the regulations persist, but we are certainly still dissatisfied with the results.

"The technical problems -he maintains- aggravate the stability of transportation, and the contribution of the drivers of light cars of organizations is important, as indicated, it is not a favor, it is an obligation, and the population must denounce those who roam the empty city, indicate the number of the sheet and the time, to identify the alienated, and thus contribute to control from popular action.

“The Municipal Assembly of Guantánamo and Transport have online channels and profiles on social networks to receive and respond directly to any complaint;

Together with us, the people can also help resolve this issue, which is still pending”, he refers.

“There is a lack of greater popular denunciation against the insensitive, it is true, but also the control mechanism to enforce regulations created for this, such as Resolution 435 of the Ministry of Transportation, which establishes the obligation for state drivers to stop at the signal of inspectors, at stops and mass transportation points, and this continues without having the required impact.

“Among the measures established by the UEB of Urban Transport, in Guantánamo, to enforce the contractual obligations of the leased, which include three morning trips and three afternoon trips, stop at the stops, and do not circulate empty, is the check through a waybill at the established dispatch points, but to date only one contract is in the process of litigation for breach of the state order”.

Undoubtedly, the leasing of paralyzed buses for their repair and operation due to the new forms of management is a measure that could be effective in favor of public passenger transportation, but behind it must appear the requirement.

Decentralization makes it possible to resume the useful life of the equipment and a better investment and maintenance policy, however, the high demand for the service is still not satisfied, which requires perfecting the leasing modality and strengthening organizational measures to optimize the limited resources of the sector.

(Taken from Venceremos)