Many sectors across St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have been affected by the impacts of COVID-19. One such sector – the public transportation system.
In an effort to minimize the spread of the virus, the government of SVG has implemented a protocol limiting the number of persons permitted in public transportation vehicles at any one time.
All public vehicles may only transport a maximum of half their permitted number of passengers. (An 18 seater van will be allowed to transport 9 persons, inclusive of the driver and conductor).
Many omnibus drivers/operators across SVG have expressed that it is unfeasible for them to operate their vehicles under these terms and so on Monday (Feb. 15) withdrew their services, taking a strike action against the 50% capacity measure.
The Vincentian Transportation Association (VINTAS), in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Transport, Works and Urban Development, sought consideration from the government on suggestions to subsidize the drop in revenue.
The letter dated February 8, 2021, cited the following:
In reviewing the current situation, we have decided that the following suggestions of support provide reasonable options for you to consider. They are:
- Reduction in fuel price;
- Continuation of the sanitization of buses;
- Duty free concession on buses with a capacity of 18 seaters and greater;
- A permanent economic subsidy of a minimum of EC$500.00 per month;
- Waiver of all vehicle license fees for a period of one year and reduction by 50% thereafter;
- Waiver of all traffic tickets for “picking up or dropping of passengers at points other than at a bus-stop”; and
- Any other benefit that may be deemed appropriate in the circumstances.
In response to the letter, the government has agreed to meet with VINTAS on Tuesday (Feb. 16) at 3pm to address their grievances, Royron Adams, President shared with XtremeFM.
The meeting will be held via media conference platform Zoom.
Adams also noted that the meeting is open to all omnibus operators/drivers, including those that are not VINTAS members.
SVG has recorded a total 1,457 COVID-19 cases since March, 2020.