Vincentian students in Jamaica must each come up with at least US$1,339.29 (EC$3,600) to fly home, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic — almost four times the regular price of a one-day ticket.
And, the price could increase if there are fewer than 56 students making the journey.
In a letter to students on Tuesday, June Barbour, the honorary consul of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Jamaica, said that LIAT has quoted US$75,000 as the cost of a charter flight from Jamaica to St. Vincent.
“This means that the fare for each person to travel, if the 56 persons quota is achieved is US$1,339.29. This is a discounted rate from US$101,420,” Barbour said.
She said that the government is in the process of making arrangements to have LIAT in St. Vincent collect all the payments for the flight.
“Please indicate as soon as possible if you still have an interest in travelling on this flight,” Barbour told the students.
The students were given the quotation weeks after one student in Jamaica caused to be published on iWitness News, an April 21 open letter to the National Student Loan Company, Ministry of Education and Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Many of the self-funded students have returned home amidst community spread of COVID-19 in Jamaica.
However, still remaining in Jamaica are Vincentian students whose education is being funded by disadvantaged students’ loans and scholarships.
The student wrote:
“A poll was conducted among us, which revealed that past the month of April, many persons funded by the disadvantage student loan would no longer be able to sustain themselves for the extended period of the semester. Against this backdrop, we call on the stakeholders of the National Disadvantaged Student Loan Scheme to investigate the unforeseen situation that has resulted in varying implications for students in this time of anxiety and concern.”
In a recent comment on radio, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said there were issues to be worked out to bring Vincentians students home from Jamaica and Cuba.
“And I point out that I’m in touch in Jamaica with our Honorary Consul Miss Barbour, Pam Barbour and I’m in touch with Ambassador John about Cuba.
“There are issues at play which we have to work out,” he said, adding that Kingstown was keen on repatriating nationals from wherever they are.
He said that a Vincentian vessel that recently transported goods to Grenada had repatriated three Vincentians who had expressed an interest in returning home.