by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts-Nevis (WINN) – Following the demonstration in front of Government Headquarters on Monday, March 15, that led to 14 buses of the Eastside Bus Association being ticketed, and three of them being towed, Cabinet met with the association members to hear their concerns.
“Work on the terminal should get started as soon as Monday (March 22)… In the near future changes will progress. So we are patient, we are waiting to see if the government will be backing up their words… and so far we see that there is something that has been done and we’re looking forward [to] working and cooperating with them [the government] in the future.”
Jefferson Pemberton, President of the Eastside Bus Association during an interview on WINN’s Voices Wednesday, March 17.
He went on to explain the infrastructural issues within the terminal, reporting that drivers incurred maintenance costs that were out of the norm because of the structure.
“One of the things that we were concerned about was [an] emergency. If there was an emergency it is very difficult to, in fact when they consulted with us before the construction of the facility there should have been removable bars in case of emergency you can easily move it and a bus gets out and [goes] on its way… but that was not done. The other thing too, the entrance is very small, so it makes it difficult for buses to maneuver especially into the Molineux queue. So what we were asking for is to widen that area, that’s the entrance area, so it makes it easy.”
Pemberton disclosed that other arrangements have been agreed upon; however the specifics of those arrangements were not disclosed to the public as yet.
On Monday, March 15 members of the East Bus Association began protest action at the East us Terminal.
Fourteen Omnibuses blocked the entrance and the exit of the terminal before marching towards Central Basseterre arriving in front of the Government Headquarters to have their concerns heard.
The issues; a Lack of police presence, Other bus drivers soliciting passengers from outside the terminals; Ineffective Crossing Guards; Infrastructural issues and of course the financial struggles these men have been facing which Pemberton expressed to WINN’s Clive Bacchus.
“Well, Mr. Bacchus right now… some of us are driving the bus with a shaky feeling… Looking out to see [whether] the bailiff or somebody [will] stop them and repossess the vehicle. Because since the [COVID-19 pandemic] [things have been] really bad for some, in fact for all and I tried to get some things to Social Security in order to assist us. We applied when they were giving that little grant but to no avail. A lot of the guys didn’t get anything; yes I know a lot of them were not registered as self-employed but that is something that we are working on to try to get them self-employed coverage because it’s important. They see it’s important because of what happened during the [COVID-19 pandemic].”