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.
Twelve years ago, during the O.J. Simpson trial, forensic scientist Henry C. Lee mesmerized jurors with his analysis of scientific evidence in the celebrity murder case. Holding up a photo of what he said was a shoe print, he declared ominously: “Something’s wrong.” Despite challenges from others, it was a statement simple and accessible enough to turn the tide in Simpson’s case and was emblematic of the style that has made Lee a nationally renowned expert. He made forensic evidence understandable before “CSI” shows on TV transformed it into a pop culture subject. Lee often carries a large magnifying glass to the witness stand, casting himself in the role of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. He also uses props to present a show-and-tell explanation that intrigues jurors. But his extraordinary reputation is now under attack. A judge has ruled in the Phil Spector murder trial that Lee removed something from the scene where actress Lana Clarkson was shot and withheld it from the prosecution. “Dr. Lee has a lot to lose here,” said Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who cast doubt on the expert’s credibility. The judge had heard testimony from several witnesses over a period of weeks on the mystery of a missing piece of fingernail at the crime scene. The judge concluded that only one, lawyer Sara Caplan, had told the complete truth. She said she saw Lee pick up something and place it in a vial. “I find the following,” said Fidler. “Dr. Lee did recover an item. It is flat, white, with rough edges. I cannot say if it is a fingernail. It has never been presented to the prosecution.” Lee denied during a hearing last week that he found such an item. He said his only findings were some white threads and a piece of bloodstained carpet. The prosecution contends the item Lee withheld was a piece of fingernail with the trace of a passing bullet that would show Clarkson was resisting having a gun placed in her mouth. Her right thumb was missing a piece of acrylic fingernail after her death. During the hearing with jurors absent, Lee displayed his showmanship on the witness stand, complimenting prosecutor Alan Jackson on his good looks and producing cotton swabs and sticky notes he said he used to pick up and package evidence. He became testy when challenged and said he felt his reputation was being damaged by the prosecution’s insinuations. The session had been delayed because Lee had to fly in from Taiwan where he was consulting on a case. By the time the judge ruled Wednesday, he was traveling in Italy and could not be reached for comment. The Chinese-born Lee, 69, whose parents fled to Taiwan when he was 6, still speaks with a heavy Chinese accent. Lee, the retired director of the Connecticut State Forensics Science Laboratory, has conducted investigations for defense attorneys and prosecutors. His r sum is a who’s who of celebrity cases including Simpson, William Kennedy Smith, Kobe Bryant, JonBenet Ramsey, Scott Peterson, Chandra Levy, Michael Skakel, Vincent Foster, and the Branch Davidian compound fire. He conducted a crime-scene investigation in Taipei after the election-eve shooting of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian. He has written books on famous cases, had a Court TV show on trace evidence and teaches at the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science at the University of New Haven, which trains crime-lab experts. University of Southern California Law professor Jean Rosenbluth, who has been attending the Spector trial, noted the judge did not sanction Lee and issued what she called a “benign and narrow ruling.” But she said it could smudge his career. “Any time he takes the stand now, he can be impeached with a finding by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that he failed to turn over evidence,” she said. “It’s certainly not helpful.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!