(By Ernesto Cooke) – St Vincent and the Grenadines could soon have a state-run public transportation system; Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves disclosed this on Monday 15th March 2021
Gonsalves said he is actively for the first time since the ULP has been in Government contemplating such a venture.
“We are thinking of the state acquiring brand new buses, 25 seaters and a significant number of them”.
Gonsalves said this would be done to make a difference, whether in this budget cycle or next year.
“Despite the problems of state-run bus services and these are problems across the region, and internationally, however, this COVID challenge has brought about an unseriousness in certain persons within the minibus business”.
Gonsalves said the country has to put in place other modes of transportation.
The Prime Minister on Monday also spoke to the requirements for such a public transport system.
- One hundred new 25 seater buses.
- Imported duty-free
- Change the regulations to minus a conductor
- Use tokens or a ticketing system
“Let us say that each of these buses without the duty cost you $100,000, one hundred of them would be ten million dollars, if you go to the bank with 3 Million, you would be able to borrow the other 7 Million”.
Gonsalves said these are broad concept ideas, and he is pretty sure the Government can get a good deal if a significant number of buses are ordered.
The Prime Minister said he always wanted to leave this as an area for the private sector. However, this is the first time the Government is actively contemplating such a move.
“I think that the country is demanding of me, the people, I have heard them, Ralph, you have tried for twenty years with this, we have gone along with you, and we are not denying that the minibuses made and are making an important contribution, but it is time”.
Gonsalves said Fifty buses could be placed on either side of the country, and those who wish to compete with you from the private sector can continue to do so in an even more stringent regulated framework.
The Prime Minister said the Government would also have to limit the number of years one can have for a bus.
“There are many minibuses in this country 15,16,18 years old; some are problematic”, Gonsalves said.