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More protest action from busmen

Busmen were caught on camera Tuesday in front of the bus terminus in their protest against the current rulers

Don’t get trick.

This was the constant chant of protesting bus operators on Tuesday as they staged their second protest action in two weeks against poor working conditions at the Bus terminal on Melville Street in the city.

Some of the placards seen during the protest read: “Busmen family bawling too,” and “Busmen need to survive too.”

The person who addressed the media and took to a live airing of their grievances on Facebook and other social media platforms was Jason Skeete who operates a bus on the St. George North-east route.

According to Skeete the action taken by the bus operators is not only for themselves but for all vehicle owners in the country who have been forced to pay higher prices in recent weeks at the fuel pumps.

Skeete addressed recent statements made by Finance Minister Gregory Bowen that when prices go up they have to be passed onto the consumers.

However, he said this does not apply to Bus operators since they cannot raise the price of bus fares in the country without the approval of the government.

He said the only persons who can make a unilateral decision on bus fares in Grenada are the people in the government even though the buses on the roads are run by the private sector.

He pointed out that the private sector operators purchase the buses on the road on their own and do not get any concessions from the State for the service provided to the public.

Skeete disclosed that bus operators spend the most money as a sector in the country at gas stations and business places selling spare parts for vehicles.

He put the fuel bill for bus operators at EC$20 million annually.

The bus operator said it is time the public know that even before a bus reaches the dealer the government would have collected thousands of dollars in taxes from the importer of the vehicle.

In addition, he said the bus operators are forced in most instances to put out more to buy new tyres instead of used tyres due to constant monitoring from traffic cops in the streets of St. George.

“It is time the public know what’s happening,” he remarked.

Skeete addressed those who have expressed concerns that only a limited number of bus operators were taking part in the protest action.

He said that the protest action is receiving support from several of the bus operators because even those who were not on the protest line with them heeded the call to wear red t-shirts as a form of solidarity even when transporting members of the public.

The bus operator also touched on the poor working conditions at the Bus Terminal and described as a “Heat Box” the area where busmen will have to wait before they are called to accept passengers for a trip, as well as the lack of proper toilet facilities for female bus drivers.

President of the Grand Anse Bus Association, Garth Woodroffe also addressed the gathering at the protest action.

Woodroffe said the action undertaken is not only for bus drivers and conductors but also for private vehicle owners who have to pay high prices for gas and have to face up on a daily basis to poor conditions on the nation’s road network.

“Everything is going up around us, he said, and quickly added that, “something needs to be done and something needs to be done right now. Poor people are bawling.”

Woodroffe got instant support from Skeete who was standing alongside him and shouted out, “Poor people fed-up.”

The Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) administration has had to deal with growing protest action in the country especially since the coronavirus pandemic just over 15 months ago.

On August 9 and 10, hundreds of persons defied the government order not to engage in carnival-type activities and came out to play Jab Jab mas and hurled a number of obscene language in the direction of the island’s ageing 75-year old leader and calling for his removal from power.

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