President of the Omnibus Association Anthony “Code Red” Bacchus says it is not illegal for conductors to stand in buses, as seen in this van travelling to the Leeward side of St. Vincent. (IWN photo)

Members of the National Omnibus Association (NOBA) will soon fly yellow flag from their vehicles as a warning to the government to consider their proposals.

If the government fails to act, the group will move to the next stage — red flags, President of NOBA Anthony “Code Red” Bacchus told I-Witness News on Tuesday.

Bacchus has accused the Traffic Department of the Police Force of rejecting all of the proposals that NOBA made at a meeting between both parties on April 16.

The NOBA has proposed an express route out of Kingstown via Cane Garden from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. but the police rejected this, saying there were existing alternatives, namely McKies Hill, Level Gardens and Roseau.

The NOBA is also asking for bus stops (from city) near CIBC First Caribbean Bank on Halifax Street Kingstown, and near the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, respectively.

Bacchus noted that the first bus stops after leaving the bus terminals in Kingstown are at Peace Memorial hall and the Nurses Hostel on the Windward and Leeward sides, respectively.

NOBA
A woman holding a new-born baby waits for transportation outside the entrance/exit to the hospital while another woman runs to board a minivan on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. NOBA is asking for a bus stop near the hospital. (IWN photo)

In an interview with a radio station last week, Anthony called for unity among bus drivers and owners and complained about “unnecessary harassment” by police when issuing tickets to drivers.

NOBA and the police are also at odds over what constitutes loud music, since it is not clearly defined in the current legislation.

Bacchus also told I-Witness News that the practice of conductors standing or leaning over passengers when minibuses are full is not illegal.

“The van is licensed to carry 18 passengers. The conductor — who must have a licence to work — is not a passenger. He is a worker, like the driver,” Bacchus told I-Witness News.

Minister of Transport and Works Sen. Julian Francis told reporters last week that that he is not opposed to a bus stop near the hospital, but added that it should not be at the main entrance/exit.

“The buses will stop there not just for sick people,” he said.

“I am saying if a bus shed is to be considered, put it around by Daddy’s Shop, not in front of the main entrance to the hospital. So that if there is a sick patient, the sick patient can exit at Daddy’s Shop rather than at the front where the clinic is.

“It is too dangerous and inconvenient to the sick people to have the health people standing up and blocking up the hospital gate every afternoon,” Francis said.

12 replies on “Minibus association to fly yellow flag in protest”

  1. I am appalled at the lack of care shown to the travelling public.

    A large majority of van drivers already flaunt the laws of SVG, and cause undue distress to their passengers (loud music, over crowding, failure to provide service on holidays etc) and to other road users (cutting up, sudden braking, abusive language, weaving in and out of traffic, disregard for speed restrictions, blocking the highway, stopping as they feel – usually in the middle of the road, the list goes on…).

    My car is licensed for 5 passengers, this includes the driver! So NO you cant say that the conductor is not a passenger!

    I fully appreciate that ‘things tough’ right now. But if the van drivers drove with care the owners of the vans would not have to pay for additional repairs, and their gas bills would be lower too, this would make a big difference to their running costs.

    Van passengers deserve better treatment. No-one wants their ears to ring after being forced to listen to the drivers favourite track belted out as high as the huge speakers in the back will allow. (Maybe if the speakers were removed you’d have space for the conductor?). I applaud any attempt at introducing noise abatement laws in to St. Vincent.

    With the planned refurbishment of the leeward highway, the last thing that the residents of the leeward road will need is an additional impediment to accessing and departing Kingstown.

    I hope the Government stand fast and do not give into ‘Bully Boy’ tactics. The travelling public of SVG deserve better treatment.

    1. The van drivers are not flaunting the laws of SVG. What the President of NOBA is saying is that these things are not addressed in the law.Saying something is not legal is not saying that it is right or wrong.

      The Police administer the law. For them to be able to address issues these issues should be stipulated in the law so that it is clear what is permitted and what is not.

  2. Monty Providence says:

    I agree with NOBA on placing the bus stops at the two locations suggested.

    There was always a leeward bus stop at the hospital corner when I grew up a long time ago, and I think if is definitely needed today. The minister’s comment would have been better appreciated if he had simply agreed with the proposal instead of trying to show who has the final say.

    Las week I had to walk to Peace Mo on three different days in order to catch a van to Arnos Vale. Kind of silly!! Where are these planners? Stop flexing power and do the right thing, it is bad politics.

    M. P. (Toronto)

  3. I agree on having bus stops in those particular places. Keep in mind our roads aren’t designed to accomodate any sort of future adjustment. Buildings are too close to the streets, vehicles are on the roads more now than ever before…congestion has to be looked at if they approve these new bus stops and proper policing so they won’t get abused by minibus drivers.

  4. kelvin andrew says:

    I am a former bus driver and now drives a private vehicle.to kay wilson a passenger van is licensed for 18 or 14 passengers not includiong the conductor.so to is the van insured. I am on the road everyday and I think your argument about the vans attitude on the road can be better justified if the private owners show a little more compassion and discretion to the vans on the road.many times I see private vehicles do things that put the life of the passengers in the said omnibuses lives at risk in an effort to try and pressure the driver or the van. With regards to the statement made by the honorable minister about mckies hill level gardens route being used is only a solution to ease the traffic between banfiled service station and let’s say karib cable/flow.what about he traffic met from ministry of agriculture to arnos vale roundabout?if the private vehicles utilise the alternative routes to which there are no entry signs placed for omnibuses then the traffic congestion would surely ease.

  5. Maff Russell says:

    Kenton NOBA need not fly a yellow flag for the few issues they want address for their members because the entire land transportation system need fixing and if NOBA is seriously interested in fixing the system for the benefit of all stakeholders especially their members and the public, they will engage the government on this big issue. It is incumbent on both the president of NOBA and Minister Francis representing the government to seriously start the discussion to seriously fix the industry. Our current land transportation system is seriously inefficient and incapable of providing any impetus to support any modern strategy for development. To commute after 7 pm daily is a problem, don’t even talk about on weekends and holidays for nurses, police, security workers, customs and immigration staff etc who are unable to get to and from work on time. Land transportation maybe the only private sector /industry without government operation outside of school buses. NOBA may want this to continue as a predominantly private sector affairs. Then there are the other inefficiencies in the system that needs addressing which contributes to the high operating cost (high risk contributes to higher insurance cost, bank fees and rates, fuel usage etc). Finally there is need for more efficient regulation and more efficient enforcement of these regulations what will allow for organization in route demarcation, licensing, hours of operation, pricing and code of operations. It is in NOBA’s interest to focus on these bigger issues and build their base around the need to fix the industry, not only will the public give them more moral support an engagement with the government of fixing these issues can and will create win win for all stake holders especially the public. Maff

  6. Some of these comments are so politically motivated, it’s unbelievable. The president of NOBA is so unreasonable, it’s as clear as day what his agenda is. Honestly speaking, can anyone imagine a bus stop on back street, especially during peak hrs? Do the majority of passengers truly enjoy loud music?
    There is talk about a woman leaving hospital with a young baby, having to walk a considerable distance to a bus stop, point taken.
    But is there any consideration given to the woman with the young child, where loud music is concerned? hm. I on many occasions witnessed babies and young children in vans with music blasting, often wondering what on earth is this baby/child parent/gaurdian be thinking, exposing the young one to such decibels.
    I have seen drivers refusing to stop for women with children or the elderly, because they don’t want to turn there music down. Does the president consider these things before he start shooting sh!!? What about the sometimes not so nice smelling conducter standing over you, are we honestly in support of this? What about the lack of public transportation on sundays and public holidays? Could go on and on, but for now enough said.

  7. Teacherfang says:

    Quite frankly. the NOBA ought to be taken outside and stone with toilet paper; their list of proposal is total crap.

    How in the world a person standing in a minivan could be legal? Is there no concern for safety in Vincyland?…And another thing, some of these conductors need to get their hygiene in order…standing over me with “green” armpits is not kosher at all

    If you hear the music coming from a minivan before you see the actual van, the f**king music is too loud!

    Putting a bus stop anywhere on backstreet is asinine to say the very least…

    Putting a bus stop in front of the Hospital is also a numskull move…Francois suggestion is not bad…but here is a suggestion on the issue of DISCHARGED PATIENTS and seeking transportation. THE HOSPITAL COULD PROVIDE LIMITED TRANSPORT… FOR INSTANCE A DISCHARGED PATIENT WITHOUT IMMEDIATE TRANSPORTATION, CAN BE TRANSPORTED TO LITTLE TOKYO AND NO FURTHER. If Government officials and workers can have Government vehicle driving about all hr a night…and the PM has a ton load of vehicles following him around, I think the Government could provide, ONE f**king vehicle to assist poor people leaving the hospital…And just in case one of you smartarses, ask, what if the patient is discharged on a weekend(sunday), where there is a shortage of public transport? My position is simple, there should be a Hospital policy that states, NO PATIENT WILL BE DISCHARGED ON A SUNDAY UNLESS UNDER SPECIAL CONSIDERATION….but thats a different story. I am just saying.

    I think the Government deserves a bulwood for not implementing proper legislation to combat noise pollution from these minivans; I believe there should be strong regulations to curb the loud noises from these minivans. I also believe that a minivan should be impounded on the spot, if they are found in violation of the noise act, after two previous violations. Of course, that will mean, keeping proper track of violators.

    I guess at the end of the day, the key to all this kerfuffle is a level of compromise and cooperation.

  8. Watching Hard says:

    This is symptomatic of the larger problem of crime in this country. We have this rash of killings because no one wants to abide by rules, and unfortunately the persons who should be enforcing the rules are afraid or unwilling to enforce them. When we allow the general lawlessness that occurs in relation to things like public transportation, public and private noise levels, school sporting events, public administration, etc. etc., its little wonder that we now holding our heads bawling and wondering why SVG going down the drain.

    We CANNOT continue to allow the tail to wag the dog. These bus drivers need to understand what their function is. They are not mobile deejays for crying out loud. Whether the vehicles are private or not, they are offering a public service, one that must be paid for by the customer mind you. All public services are liable to be regulated. It does not matter if your vehicle is private or not. These tyrants need to understand that they are not a law unto themselves. We live in a country of laws.

    The new Commissioner of Police seems to be serious about his business and I’m encouraging him and his officers to bring the fullest force of the law down on these bus drivers. It is time that we approach the issue of transportation more professionally. Why should SVG be left behind every one else?

    As long as we continue to allow the small infractions to remain unsanctioned, we will be sending a message that anything goes. And believe me, criminals and lawbreakers of all stripes are taking note.

  9. Robertson S. Henry says:

    This is an interesting development for since I have been here, i am yet to hear on the various talk-shows, members of the public complaining of the quality of the service that they receive from the bus service providers. I must say that Saint Lucia’s system was worst than what exists now in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and with patience and perseverance, we were able to have a much more relaxed and people-oriented service.

    It took years – the first group to commence the work was Victor JnPierre, Sylvester Joseph, Peter Daminna, and Robertson S. Henry in 1988; meeting at Eddie Gston’s Disco in Mon Repos – more than an hour’s dricing down Saint Lucia’s east coast.

    The work was challenging for it was not government initiated but gradually the bus owners and drivers came around. Minibus Drivers Associations were formed and legally registered under the Business Names Ordinance, with the Reliable Drivers Association serving the Castries – Vieux-Fort route being the first.

    Soon more Associations were registered and this gave the drivers the collective strength needed in tackling many issues. Some were addressed, others not but have worked with the public transport operators from 1998 to 2009, I can safely say that the quality of service and the protection afforded both operators and passengers is of acceptable standards.

    There are still troubling issues but these are being addressed. I write all of this to illustrate that the bus operators in St. Vincent and the Grenadines can ill afford to be as divided as they are now. They provide a critical service and must see themselves as partners in developing this country in the same manner their Saint Lucia counterparts did many years ago.

    Vincentian bus operators must take the radical steps to reform their service for all it takes is one incident to force the government to act. It would be of immense benefit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the bus operators to have a discipline system of loading their buses, taking charge of Little Tokyo, maintaining the bus terminals, improving upon the hours of service, and putting themselves in a position to be a major player in the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    Government cannot be saddle with the burden of doing everything. Government must facilitate and their the bus operators must take full advantage of, for the service they provide are of immense value to the nation, but what members of the public have to experience on a daily basis is an embarrassment.

  10. tell Noba go deal with them nasty loud music on them buses then come back to the ministry with their proposal

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