Van operators’ stimulus payment increased, disbursement to be made Friday

Van owners/operators in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have experienced a decline in income due a reduction of passengers allowed to travel on buses, a measure implemented in light of COVID-19.

The government as part of its recovery and stimulus package, previously announced that minibus operators will receive monthly payments of $250, as well as free sanitizing services.

Royron Adams, Vice President (Ag.) of the Vincentian Transportation Association (VINTAS), informed while speaking on XtremeFM on Wednesday (May. 6) that this payment has been increased.

He informed that owners/operators of 18-seater vans will now receive $500 and those who operate/own 26-seaters will receive a payment of $600. This payment will be made once a month for two months, with the first disbursement scheduled to take place on Friday (May. 8).

Adams shared that this new settlement came as a result of a meeting VINTAS had with government officials on Tuesday (May. 5).

The VINTAS executive expressed, though they did not receive the $700,000 payment that was initially allocated to them, the association appreciates the government’s effort in providing financial assistance to other sectors that have been affected by COVID-19.

So far, 375 buses have registered for the sanitization programme & stimulus package. Adams advised those who have not registered, to do so, as only registered parties will benefit.

Adams also reminded operators of the seating policy that has been implemented to allow for physical distancing in light of COVID-19, noting that it is applicable to all buses and not just those who are registered.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves previously stated that there are an estimated 1,400 minivans operating in SVG. While on the XtremeFM last month, Adams had contradicted this number, giving his estimation of 600. He has now shared that his estimate was true to fact, as the meeting on Tuesday (May. 5) revealed that there are in fact 600 buses in operation in SVG.

Adams closed by suggesting to bus operators the importance of continuing “this sort of open relationship with policy makers that we have been having.”

“We are building the type of relationship that is necessary for creating value for all stakeholders, he expressed.”