By Demion McTair. Updated 3:44 p.m., Wednesday May 6, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Nearly four hundred omnibus operators will be receiving Covid-19 stimulus assistance from the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves said recently.
But, the Government had previously announced assistance for close to fourteen hundred minibus operators.
What then happened to the other one thousand or so minibus operators?
In a telephone call with One News SVGs Demion McTair, today, Vice President of the Vincentian Transportation Association – VINTAS, Royron Adams, said “the Government got the numbers wrong in the first place”.
“We made representation that number was about 600” – Adams said, adding that information from Insurance companies showed that there were about 490 registered minibuses.
Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves had alluded to this in his press conference when saying that the numbers had been revised.
Adams said VINTAS met with the Government yesterday and the Government agreed that the number was 600. He said the outcome of meeting was very positive.
Since the Government announced assistance for nearly 400 operators and the new figure agreed to yesterday was 600, One News SVGs Demion McTair asked Mr. Adams what would happen to the other 200 or so operators and why haven’t they registered.
Adams answered saying that “the issue is that there is still a standard process of registration” and that some operators have probably not registered because they have been off the road and registration involves bringing the bus to be registered.
“Variance in the numbers could be because of different factors” – he added, saying that some operators are probably not interested in being registered.
Mr. Adams said that based on the numbers, some 60 percent of operators are currently registered.
Minister Gonsalves said that the previously announced assistance of $250 per month for the minibus operators has been increased due to fewer number of buses than anticipated, registering for the assistance.
Meanwhile, VINTAS’ Vice President, Mr. Royron Adams told One News SVG that sanitization of buses remains an issue for the government.
“They had some concerns as it relates to participation level with sanitization..” he said, adding that “we are encouraging our members to adhere to requirements of sanitization and to do so with frequency which was agreed on, which is four (4) times a day for shorter routes, and three (3) times per day longer routes”.
The assistance and the sanitization were part of measures to respond to the economic fallout in the public transportation sector due to Covid-19 and to protect the travelling public.