Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 22, 2017 (SKNIS): Senior leaders in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis are willing to listen to representatives of the local taxi and bus associations to review any challenges or concerns they may have, but stressed that the bus drivers and/or owners must first use the proper mechanisms to deal with such matters.
A number of bus drivers reportedly met this past weekend to discuss taking strike action on Monday (February 20) in protest of several issues. The drivers ultimately decided against a strike and normal operations were maintained.
Minister responsible for Public Infrastructure and Transport, Hon. Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd, spoke about the matter on Tuesday (February 21) at the latest town hall meeting in the “Good Governance and Accountability for Prosperity” series. He told the gathering at the OOJJ’s Conference Center at Camps, and those tuned in via radio, television and internet stream, that the commuter bus service was important to the economy as it is the primary source of transportation for many in the country.
“The issues of the bus drivers and the taxi drivers are being addressed through the dictates of the legislation, to wit the Vehicle and Road Traffic Act and subsidiary legislation, and this piece of legislation calls for a Traffic Safety and Public Service Driver’s Board,” Minister Liburd said.
The Board consists of representatives from the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Tourism, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, Public Works Department, the Taxi Drivers Association and the bus associations.
“I spoke to the Chairman of that Board and it is going to meet next Tuesday (February 28) to deal with the issues as it relates to road transport, traffic and traffic safety, public service vehicles and public service drivers amongst other things,” Honourable Liburd stated. “The Board is also mandated to advise the minister on transport rates, fares, tolls, dues and other charges so I will await that advice from the Board.”
Speaking on behalf of the government, and in his own personal capacity, Minister Liburd said “we fully support them” adding that providing transportation services is an important part of the commerce system. A high level of support was also echoed by Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who explained the process of how any changes should take place.
“There is a Board; you all are on the Board [so] you have to go talk to the people on the Board [and] convince them on the rightness of your position,” Dr. Harris stated, speaking openly to the bus drivers. “The Board will then refer it to the minister; the minister’s duty is to bring it to the Cabinet so a policy could be formed,” he added.
The prime minister noted that one of the issues highlighted by the drivers concerns the removal of the cap on the number of buses. He said this goes back to 2005 and discussions will be necessary to come to a fair decision.