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francis at podium iran
Minister of Transport Sen. Julian Francis.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Transport Minister Sen. Julian Francis says that his ministry is moving forward with plans to reform the minibus sector and will form a committee to propose to the Cabinet guidelines for public land transport.

“It is the responsibility of the government, and my ministry has been designated as such … [as] the Minister of Land Transport,” said on Tuesday.

The announcement came one week after a withdrawal of service by the National Omnibuses Association (NOBA) failed to force the government to review bus fares for a second time in one month.

Francis said that he had informed NOBA of his plan and Association president Anthony Bacchus agreed with the proposal.

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The committee will comprise representatives of NOBA, the police, the Ministry of Transport, the Taxi Drivers Association, the Consumer Association, the Insurers Association and five representatives of the travelling public.

The Minister said he would also seek the help of a Vincentian professional who is trained in the area.

“I don’t want to make the committee too big. A more compact, lean committee will be an easier working committee,” Francis said.

“I don’t want to give a time frame on this but I want to say to you that it is my intention to push forward with this and try to come up with regulations … to be taken to Cabinet for approval for the formal operation of minibuses,” he explained.

Among other things, the regulations will include the speed of minibuses, number of passengers, tyres, insurance, who is authorised to run a minibus, how do you get a license for a minibus, how do you get a license to drive a minibus, and routes.

“And this is the way we intend to pursue it at the Ministry of Works,” Francis said.

The minister was pleased with the minibus services as schools reopened this week but complained about excessive speed.

“I did see … the usual excessive speeding and I want to ask them to curb that. … We can do it at a slower pace. Not at a snail’s pace but at a slower pace. I want you to slow down, concentrate on what you are doing and provide that comfortable ride for people,” Francis said.

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