The Vincentian Transportation Association (VINTAS) is seeking cooperation from the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), as it pertains to the operation of public transport amid global pandemic COVID-19.
Speaking on the WakeUpCall on Wednesday (Apr. 16), Vice President (Ag.) of the association Royron Adams, noted that the health risk associated with COVID-19 is of paramount importance to VINTAS’ members.
“The minibus sector could be both a conduit and also an excellent risk management tool for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and so, I believe sometimes we probably get carried away with the economic impact and not really properly assess the risks associated with operating a minibus and the potential for the spread as it relates to COVID-19.”
Adams shared that VINTAS wishes for negotiations between themselves and the government to result with both parties benefiting.
“We want to ensure that we have a very cordial relationship with policy makers. Negotiation is never a zero-sum game, I think that people think somebody has to win and somebody has to lose when you’re involved in negotiation. I don’t believe so. I believe it’s creating value for all parties and that is the approach that we want to take, it’s to have conversation to create value across the board.”
According to Adams, COVID-19 presents both a challenge and an opportunity for VINTAS.
“It’s a challenge because it’s trying time and it’s a critical moment to engage policy makers in terms of finding solutions to this new environment we all have to operate it, which means living with COVID-19 and how that affects businesses across our sectors.”
“…It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate the value of an organization to advocate for the interest of public transportation… a well structured organization.”
Responding to a question about current operations of omnibuses, as services were recently withdrawn, Adams said, “in an economic crisis, its a personal thing.”
Adams deduced that VINTAS hopes to have conversation with the government, “not only on the elements of the stimulus package that was put forward for omnibus operators, but most importantly, the health exposure as front line workers.”
Minister of Finance, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves during a meeting of Parliament on Tuesday April 7, 2020 informed that bus operators are to receive a $250 stipend from the government for the next three month as well as reduction in diesel prices, sanitization services and assistance from various banks and institutions with regard to loan payments.