Minister of Transport and Works, Montgomery Daniel says there will be a clampdown on the abuse and misuse of government-owned school buses.
“Especially on a weekend, a number of these buses are being seen across the country, not carrying school children,” he said on radio on Wednesday, adding that his ministry will seek the assistance of the police to stamp out the problem.
“Any school bus found on the streets of St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the weekend without the approval of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, … the bus must be taken away and be kept in safe keeping,” Daniel said.
Daniel, who is also deputy prime minister, said that the police must then contact the permanent secretary with the relevant information, after which actions will be taken against the driver.
“Please comply with the regulations,” Daniel said in comments directed at drivers.
The minister said a system is also being organised to manage and control the buses when they operate.
The minister said he is also concerned with the repairs of school buses across the country.
This comes amidst reports that students in the extreme north of St. Vincent have been having challenges getting to and from school as a result of inadequate bus service.
The minister said that when government vehicles, in particular, school buses go for services at the garage it seems that personnel take a long time to attend to them.
“Of course, vehicles break down from time to time and it’s something that this administration hates,” Daniel said.
He said that if a vehicle breaks down, there must be immediate substitution to take the children to school.
The state-owned Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) is responsible for the repair and maintenance of government vehicles.
On Feb. 4, iWitness News published an article about students in North Windward being affected by inadequate bus service to and from school.
Since then, we have learnt that students in North Leeward are experiencing similar issues.
Daniel called on BRAGSA to “beef up” it staff to eliminate any backlogs or any inefficiency so as to address issues related to the maintenance of school buses.
The minister said that if Cabinet approves, two school buses would be added to the government’s fleet soon.
“Next year, I am hoping to have another four buses added to the fleet … to use for the good of the children as they proceed to school,” the minister said.