Minibuses at the Leeward Bus Terminal. (iWN file photo)

The government and the Vincentian Transportation Association (VINTAS) on Monday announced that they have reached an agreement on an economic support package in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VINTAS is a 200-member group representing the interest of stakeholders in the land transportation sector.

In a press release on Monday, the group, which was founded in September 2018, urged omnibus operators and commuters to adhere to the government’s recommendation to reduce the number of passengers in omnibuses from 18 to 12 or three passengers per row.

“This measure is temporary and represents the commitment of omnibus operators to minimize the risks in spreading the COVID-19 virus,” the group noted.

The group said that at a meeting with the government on Monday, the government agreed that omnibus operators will be given a stipend for two months in the first instance beginning in April 2020.

The stipend will be between EC$250 and EC$300 and the registration process for collection of the stipend and the amount to be collected will be determined by the Government after further consultation with the Ministry of Finance, VINTAS said.

Further, gasoline was reduced from EC$12.97 to EC$11.97 per gallon and the price of diesel was reduced from EC$11.79 to EC$10.79 per gallon, effective March 23.

Gas and diesel prices are to be further reduced within the next three weeks, the group said.

The meeting also agreed that all vans will be sanitised by the Ministry of Health at two designated, centralised locations in Kingstown at least twice daily.

The details are to be fine-tuned and communicated to the omnibus operators.

The statement said that omnibus operators who are credit/loan customers of certain banks and credit unions may also be eligible for a loan repayment moratorium.

“Omnibus operators are encouraged to contact their banks or credit unions to clarify what support they may be eligible to receive,” the statement said.

“VINTAS affirmed that the Association is willing and ready to co-operate with the Government in implementing measures that would forestall and prevent the community spread of the pernicious COVID-19 virus, commonly called the Novel Corona Virus.”

On Monday, Burton Williams, president of VINTAS, told iWitness News that since its formation, the group has been actively participating, at the invitation of the government, with the Ministry of Transport and Works on the revision of the Road Traffic Bill.

“The association has the full support of the minibus owners, drivers and conductors and is committed to working assiduously to fully represent their best interest,” Williams said.

6 replies on “Gov’t, minibus group reach subsidy deal”

  1. 18 to 12 just mean that you move from an overloaded bus to a full load bus
    So how are we going to practice social distancing in a full load bus?
    I say this because many of these death-traps on SVG roads are manufactured and purchase as twelve seater buses.

  2. Crude is $20US a barrel, Gas and diesel prices have dropped by a half on the world markets.

    Putting the lower gas price into the mix is simply rubbish. When the prices go up the van drivers pay it, when the prices go down they benefit. Lower prices have nothing whatsoever to do with this deal, you are all being fooled once again. That’s because you have ignorant people negotiating with clever people who are going to take advantage of the ignorance.

  3. I still believe that instead of all the silly rules that we are now coming up with (such as for banks and supermarkets) at a time when we allegedly have NO CASES of the virus in SVG, we should require people to wear masks and maybe gloves such as what they are doing in Austria and the city Jena in Germany:
    https://www.thelocal.de/20200331/first-large-german-city-makes-wearing-a-face-mask-mandatory
    I say the rules we are implementing in SVG are silly because they will do absolutely NOTHING to stop or slow the spread of the virus. All it does is give people a FALSE sense of being safe. After exiting the vans there are too many places all over Kingstown where people are bunched together among all the vendors crowding the places people walk. If the virus really does hit us the only way we are going to slow the spread is a total lock-down which will also do tremendous harm in other ways not just economic.
    Maybe with all the millions the government is borrowing and spending at this time, very much of the funds should be used to bring in masks and gloves or people can at least use scarfs and bandanas or some other modified way to breath air less likely to contain the virus. The gloves will remind us to not touch our faces as we normally would.

  4. Kittana Albert says:

    Sorry some of them does not deserve it at all they are still packing their vans like sardines I believe the police should be out in full force some of them does not want to abide by the law and at the end of the day still want to be paid not fair at alll.

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