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If an agreement between the National Omni Buses Association (NOBA) and Government had not been reached at yesterday’s meeting, then today, Friday 25th August should see strike actions continuing.

At press time, Wednesday, August 23, NOBA was adamant that their strike actions and demands were not fly-by-night gestures and insisted that they were willing to stay the course unless the scheduled Thursday 1:30pm meeting in cabinet room manifests the gifts written on their wish list to Government.{{more}}

Paramount among these is NOBA’s call for Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to withdraw his statement made in Parliament on Thursday, August 17, that “The cost of fuel to bus operators will not increase so that they not going to ask the workers to pay any more or the school children to pay any more in bus fares.”

NOBA president Herman Preddie told SEARCHLIGHT late Wednesday evening that they will also be insisting that the proposal for a fare increase made to the Ministry of Transport in January be approved. “The increase will only see an increase of an estimate of 50 cents on the various routes,” he stated.

Commenting on the first day of the strike, NOBA’s Public Relations Officer Len Grant said that it was largely successful even though some van operators did not heed the call. He said that there was however only one reported confrontational incident involving striking and non striking factions which took place in Arnos Vale. SEARCHLIGHT also heard of a similar confrontation in Calliaqua where a striking van driver impeded the progress of a working passenger van for close to a minute around midday

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had stated that a proposed transportation subsidy fund would ensure that the cost of fuel does not increase for van operators hence the justification for keeping the fares as they are. In a another statement on the issue made prior to the NOBA strike actions, Prime Minister Gonsalves had suggested that if NOBA did strike that they would be putting themselves in problems with the banks that they owe for their vehicles.

At the meeting held on Tuesday, August 22 at Club Iguana in Villa, NOBA executive member and experienced banker Eli Hamilton told his comrades that they need not fear seizure of their buses by lending institutions. the maximum wholesale price per gallon for gasoline is up from $8.90 to $10. 90 while retail price per gallon at the pump jumped from $9.50 to $11.50.

Hamilton presented an estimate of the operating cost for van operators to the meeting suggesting that van operators need an estimate of $100 per day or more if their business is to be deemed profitable. He suggested that no van operator is in fact making any money when all the overhead costs are considered. “I have had van drivers come to me to ask for loans to pay their insurance” declared Hamilton.