The State and minibus drivers in St Vincent and the Grenadines have reached a compromise. This follows two days of protest to highlight their concerns over the reduction in passengers brought about by the island’s Public Health Act to fight COVID-19.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves along with Minister of Transport Montgomery Daniel, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Urban Development Julian Francis, Director General of Finance and Planning Edmond Jackson and Superintendent Kenneth John met with representatives of the Vincentian Transport Association (VINTAS) to discuss the proposals put forth in a letter submitted to the Minister of Transport on February 8, 2021.
The Omnibus proposal which was circulated online included:
- Reduction in fuel price
- Continuation of sanitisation 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 per month
- Waiver of all vehicle license fees for a period of one year and reduction by 50 per cent thereafter
- Waiver of all traffic tickets for “picking up or dropping off passengers at points other than at a bus stop
- Any other benefit that may be deemed appropriate in the circumstances.
The prime minister in leading the discussion on the seven points put forward by the Association, outlined the government’s position in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in all its dimensions – Health, Economic, Social and Security.
The government offered support to a number of sectors affected, including income support to individuals whose income was impacted and offered special support to minibus operators.
The two areas of compromise reached included the continuation of the sanitisation of buses and a temporary economic subsidy that would not be less than what was offered last year.
The specific amount of the subsidy would be determined before the end of the week and communicated to the Association.