Transport Minister Guy Joseph has applauded the efforts by minibus operators in adhering to the established COVID-19 protocols which were put in place for the sector in controlling the spread of the virus.
These include a ten passenger limit, wearing of masks, sanitizing hands before entry and in some cases temperature checks.
However, according to Minister Joseph, drivers, in establishing or enforcing the established protocols encounter issues with passengers who are leaving the stand and going to other buses that are not complying with the requirements. “We have made it very clear that any driver who is found not complying with the protocols will be suspended for four weeks and in the first instance they would be suspended for 14 days,” Joseph said.
Delinquent drivers, he says, can and will be arrested and charged by the police for non-adherence.
In addition to that, guilty drivers will be suspended from plying the respective route and depending on the level of exposure, placed in quarantine for a two week period.
Saint Lucia to date has recorded 41 cases of the virus with evidence of community spread which is of great concern to health officials.
Delinquency, he says, should be addressed using the full brunt of the law.
“We do not want to go down that road but if that’s the only option that is available, and we have given that authority to the National Council itself to be able to suspend the members who are not complying because it’s putting everybody at risk.
We cannot overemphasize, the importance of people, adhering to the basic protocols,” said Joseph.
On Monday this week, lines of passengers were backed up for blocks at the Gros Islet Bus Stand as drivers ensured that passengers were sanitized and wore their face masks before departure.
“So if I take the Gros Islet situation, the association decided that everybody should be sanitized even before they enter the bus, they want to verify that they have the mask and if other drivers are going to pick up the passengers, not meeting these requirements, then it means that these are the drivers needs to be suspended,” Minister Joseph said.