One week after commuters had complained about extortion being practised by boat operators traversing the Georgetown and Vreed-en-Hoop stellings on Sundays and holidays, Harbour Master Michael Tennant has announced that those operators can be suspended for their actions if the matter is reported.Guyana Times reported that boat operators were charging double fares on Sundays and holidays, much to the discomfiture of the travelling public.Tennant, in an interview with this publication, said passengers need to report the incidents for MARAD to act. He noted that complainants would be required to file an official report, which would require the name of the boat along with the time of the incident, since it would make the investigation easier.This newspaper was informed that boat operators usually demand a fare increase of an additional $100 when they transport half the number of passengers on this route.Passengers have also detailed cases when they were forced to pay the extra $100, some without even knowing that the additional fee is unlawful.When Guyana Times visited the Georgetown Stelling to investigate the complaint one recent Friday, some disgruntled passengers opined that the fare increase was quite burdensome and “unfair” to them. An angry passenger had said, “I ain’t get raise on my salary, so I ain’t concern with no raise of fare! I won’t go for no raise of fare!”Another frequent boat user had told Guyana Times, “I think that the fee increase on weekends and holidays is unnecessary and unacceptable. The boat captains and bowmen would have the maximum number of persons on board and still charge the $200 fee. It is a matter that should be looked into by the relevant authorities, because it’s an act of exploiting customers.”Another passenger of the water taxis had said, “We have no other choice. Sometimes — especially when they (boat operators) know that the bridge is closed — they try to exploit us, and I think that is unfair.”Still another passenger had noted being subjected to the increase predominantly on Sundays and holidays. “The double-fare being charged by boat operators on Sundays and holidays is definitely ridiculous! It’s unethical! This was never approved! I believe only persons who aren’t aware of this are the ones that are being targeted. I pay $100 on those days, especially when the boats travel with a full load,” this passenger had said.Agreeing with the statements expressed by most passengers, Trisha Patterson had said she had seen cases in which the boat operators had come over with full loads and were still demanding $200 from each passenger. She opined that the situation needed to be investigated.A bowman who spoke to this newspaper had said the fares are increased on Sundays and holidays because those are not full working days.“Sundays and holidays is $200 (charged) because we ain’t supposed to be working. So them man does come out because them ain’t got nothing fuh do (and them want) fuh try and help de passengers to get across more fast. $200 a head. Me ain’t know why them (passengers) does row, because this is de cheapest boat fare around here,” he had declared.
DataQuick President Marshall Prentice said the frenzied part of this cycle is past. Midmarket and entry-level homes are selling well while the move-up and prestige markets are leveling off. “It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out between now and spring,” he said. The report also showed that: In Los Angeles County, sales slipped 2.2 percent, to 119,050 transactions, for all of 2005 and the median price increased 18.7 percent, to $470,000, a record. In December, sales fell 13.6 percent, to 8,845 transactions, and the median price increased an annual 17.2 percent, to $490,000. In Ventura County, sales increased 5.6 percent, to 15,862, for all of last year and the median price gained 16 percent, to $573,000, also an annual record. In December, sales fell an annual 13.3 percent, to 1,134 transactions, and the median price jumped an annual 20.7 percent, to $630,000, also a monthly record. Karevoll said that at this time next year appreciation could be in the 5 percent to 7 percent range. And there could be some volatility in the next few years when a huge number of adjustable loans beget new monthly payments for their holders. But the historical pattern suggests that home prices will rise. “Five years from now home prices will be higher than this and probably three years from now and for sure seven years from now,” Karevoll said. Last month the typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,255, up from $2,238 for the previous month, and up from $1,869 for December a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are about 2.6 percent above typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. But indicators of market distress are still largely absent. Foreclosure activity is edging up from its bottom, but is still low and down-payment sizes are stable. Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist at the California Association of Realtors, said DataQuick’s numbers show a market from strong to good. “I think the slowdown was really in the fourth quarter where you started to see sales lower than a year ago. I think you see a market that is becoming much more balanced than during the frenetic activity we’ve had.” Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Southern California’s residential real estate market ended 2005 in tepid fashion with sales sinking to their lowest level for a December in four years and price appreciation continuing to lose steam, an industry tracker said Wednesday. Last year, 355,698 new and previously owned houses and condominiums changed hands, down 0.4 percent from 2004, said La Jolla-based DataQuick information systems. The median price for all housing, the point at which half the units cost more and half less, increased 16.5 percent, to a record $460,000. The six-county sales peak is 359,983 transactions in 2003. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “Sales counts have been in the 350,000 range the past few years, which is really quite stable at a strong level,” said DataQuick analyst John Karevoll. In December, 28,952 properties changed hands in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, down an annual 4.5 percent. Sales increased 4.8 percent from November. The sales increase bucked the seasonal trend. The median price paid for a Southern California home was $479,000 in December, up an annual 13 percent, matching November’s record high. But the annual increase was the lowest since March 2002 when the $257,000 median was up 12.7 percent. The biggest percentage gain, 26.9 percent, came in May 2004. It’s a strong signal that the long-anticipated shrinkage in year-over-year gains is taking hold. For example, the year began with increases in the 20 percent range and ended down seven percentage points.