Hire car drivers operating from the New Amsterdam Ferry Stelling on Thursday picketed the region’s Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) after it rescheduled the operating hours of the water taxies across the Berbice River.Hire car drivers picketing the T&HD office in NAThe notice was placed on Wednesday, indicating that from September 1, the speedboat service will operate from 06:00h until 09:00h and then again from 14:30h until 18:00h. Previously, the service operated between 6:00h and 18:00h.However, the hire car drivers are complaining that this change in the operating hours of water taxis will affect them since persons would usually cross the river during the day with the boats and use the cars to move around New Amsterdam.Kirk Lagoudou, one of the drivers, argued firstly that the notice given is too short. “This morning [Thursday] we and notified that there is a change in the time that the water taxies will be operating. They put up the notice Wednesday. They did not come and inform us in advance,” he told Guyana Times on Thursday during the picketing exercise.According to Lagoudou, pensioners will be adversely affected with the new hours of operation since they are given free crossing by the water taxis. However, he noted that with the time change, pensioners as well as other persons wanting to cross the river, will now be forced to use the minibuses which charge a fee of $300 per trip compared the $120 water taxi fare.It was pointed out that operating from the New Amsterdam Ferry Stelling is considered a lucrative route for hire car operators who charge $140 per trip around the town as against $100 which is the fare in other parts of the town.“The Government should rethink its decision, taking into account the poorer class of persons who need to use the service to get from one side of the river to the other,” Lagoudou said.He warned too that the move could make the town of New Amsterdam become a ghost town.After the ferry service was scrapped, and the Berbice River Bridge became the only means of crossing the river – economic activity slowed down in the town as businesses in the vicinity of the stelling came to a standstill.On the other hand, minibus operators plying the New Amsterdam/Rosignol route raked in large sums of money as they charged $300 for the 12-minute journey and made three trips per day.With the introduction of the water taxies, they protested, calling on Government to also subsidise their operations saying that the $2200 to cross the Berbice River was too high. Many were forced to leave the route and fares had been reduced to $260 in an effort to attract more persons. But this amount was recently raised back to $300 – the same price it was when the Berbice Bridge was charging $2200. Now the bridge fair is $1900.Asked for a comment today on the new scheduled for the water taxies, the minibus operators – who had been very vocal in the past complaining of the difficulty in their operations as a result of the water taxi service – remained silent.