Now that schools have reopen, van drivers across St. Vincent and the Grenadines are facing a perennial problem with the usual suspects: van conductors and young girls.
BreadFruit News this week came across a story that was shared by a van owner who talked us through the saga and asked us to bring it to the attention of the public but particularly to conductors and young ladies including school girls.
His cry of “tek it easy young girls with the van purse” is one of mercy and desperation. We spoke to other van owners to comment on the situation and found the situation existing across what is considered ‘old vans’ and ‘hot vans’.
In an voice note that BreadFruit News listened to, one van owner remarked:
“Me nah drive today, and them man ain’t do good [hired driver and conductor], boy, right now me nah feel no vibes. Me nah work today but me ah wuk tomorrow.”
“You know when you ain’t drive what does go on boy, them man does play a mas eh, hear young girls ride out all kind of thing, drink ah floss, and no money at the end of the day, you know how the thing set already.”
One issue for most van owners is trusting conductors when they are not around. One owner with two vans on the road told us:
“It’s hard finding an honest conductor. You will pay them good, some owners even pay their NIS but you can’t turn your back. If you ain’t drive the van yourself is bare licks.”
“Even when I driving my van I still have to count the passengers coming and going which ain’t make sense but that’s the only way I can defend my bread. Then you have people, young girls especially who want ’rounds’ in your van and those who don’t even want pay.”
Two van owners who spoke to us said they want people to appreciate that maintaining a van is a lot of money. “You see the van purse and what we making, but not the bills. That’s the problem with black people, only one side of the story they look at.”
We have been told that apart from the ongoing cost of insurance and licensing, wages for both driver and conductors, van owners spend a considerable amount of their earnings on tyres every 4-6 weeks, replacement parts as something always go wrong on a vehicle due to wear and tear and servicing.
It is this that caused one van owner to despondently say, “tek it easy young girls with the van purse.”