There is a sense of unease among Vincentian van owners about the disregard for the plight of van owners during the current COVID-19 crisis.
While the government has introduced a two months stimulus package, van owners are annoyed that the government is seeking to legislate changes to the industry without consultation with stakeholders. It is believed that the government has been giving one of the representative bodies the proverbial ‘run around’ citing more pressing issues.
Reliable sources have indicated to Breadfruit News that the government has repeatedly failed to meet with their organisation to discuss many of the issues which confront the ailing transport sector.
Covid-19 has dampened the demand for public transport due to a slowdown in economic activity within the country. However, one owner intimated that the government’s plan to permanently keep the passenger limit at 14 passengers “would spell economic disaster for van owners similar to Liat”. The owner argues that this is a double whammy.
Another owner who wishes to remain anonymous until the organisation takes a decision soon on the way forward argued, “with little else happening, unemployment is going to increase because van owners can’t afford to repay loans, service vehicles and take care of their families” under the current arrangements.
Barbados which has recorded 97 cases of the virus has already loosened restrictions with public transport returning to full capacity. The government there has advised that ‘all drivers, conductors and passengers must all wear their masks and practise good hygiene.”
In the meantime, the local association representing van owners here is mulling taking action soon if government fails to at least consult their membership to discuss the pending changes.
Source : Breadfruit news
Photo Credit: Caribbean Charisma