Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 29, 2020 (SKNIS): Bus and taxi operators in the Federation who are impacted by the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 continue to be supported by the Ministry of Transport and by extension the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Ministry of Transport continues to work with bus and taxi operators in both St. Kitts and Nevis with a view towards helping them during this difficult period,” said Minister of Public Infrastructure et al. the Honourable Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd on Tuesday’s (April 28) edition of ‘Leadership Matters’, a virtual forum on ZIZ TV.
Minister Liburd said that the government understands that businesses are greatly affected as a result of the virus and will assist where necessary.
“As our Federal Government’s response continues to develop, we are aware that businesses are facing significant challenges and are in need of assistance to survive. We have made recommendations which are to be considered by the Cabinet,” he said, noting that eight (8) proposals that emerged from a meeting with the Traffic Safety and Public Service Drivers Board have been submitted to Cabinet for consideration.
The proposed recommendations are “that a compassionate grant be provided as a relief for the loss of income in these difficult and unprecedented times for those bonafide or full-time bus and taxi operators who are not regarded as insured persons by social security; that efforts to encourage and provide for the registration of all bonafide and full-time bus and taxi operators post COVID-19 be supported by the government; that government makes a weekly contribution of a full tank of fuel for a short period to be determined to bonafide or full-time bus operators to help offset any shortfall in income,” said Minister Liburd.
Additionally, they proposed that “government encourages the lending institutions waive late fees and suspend loan payments for a period of six (6) months in order to assist bus and taxi operators; that the Ministry of Transport introduces certification of all bus operators; the new policy be introduced to mandate all passengers to provide the exact payment of the appropriate fare on the basis of their final destination; that the ministry takes necessary actions to prevent operation of coaster buses and taxis on bus routes and punitive measures be taken against such actions by the driver of a coaster bus, a guided tour bus and or taxi, and that the government establishes an incentive scheme for bus and taxi operators in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the economic hardships facing the operations.”
Minister Liburd recognized the Transport Board which comprises of members of both the taxi associations, the president of the taxi corporation, the bus line associations, the Commissioner of Police representative, and an officer from Nevis, and representatives from the Ministry of Tourism.
Equally important, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris “hailed all the bus operators for their positive engagement with the Transport Board and of course with the Minister of Tourism and thanked all the presidents of the taxi associations for their contributions for their ideas” which the government “will certainly work on.”