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Minibuses strike for half-day

Minibuses strike for half-day

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Commuters in the Gomea and Belair areas were, yesterday morning, left without the services of minibuses that work those routes, as threats to strike because of bad road conditions came to fruition.

However, the strike came to an abrupt end shortly after midday, when van drivers were informed by minister of state in the ministry{{more}} of transport and works Julian Francis that work on the roads had already begun.

“They started some work yesterday (Wednesday) with one gang, but they went into the middle road. The men want the main road as a priority and I don’t have a problem with that. So we shifted the gang from the middle road onto the main road, but we started at the end of the main road,” Francis told the minibus operators, who gathered in front of a shop at Belair.

However, Francis stated that the drivers want the work to start with the worst areas of the main road.

“I say, okay, if that will appease you, I will shift the gang to the middle, but we still have to go back to the end,” he said.

The minister said he would hold discussions with the three sets of workers to see if they could work over the weekend to speed up the process.

“I can’t get the hot mix until Monday to fill it out, so we will cut, fill back in the material we cut and dig it back out next week. I will try and mobilize the three gangs to work on the weekend and pay them overtime to get the cutting done significantly.”

“So I will prefer to leave the gang where it is now and work its way up. By the time they reach here, they will get into the bad areas and handle it.”

Some of the minibus operators stated that they were unaware that work had started, and that is why, at meeting on Wednesday night, they decided to move forward with the strike.

Last week, members of the National Omnibus Association (NOBA) who operate in the Belair / Gomea area had threatened strike action on Monday, February 16, if no government official attended a meeting they had called for Sunday, February 15.

Francis attended that meeting and the strike was called off, after they were given the assurance that patchwork on the roads would commence on Wednesday, February 18.

When SEARCHLIGHT arrived at Gomea yesterday morning, a gang of workers was observed clearing the sides of the roads of high vegetation.

In another area, a group of men had gathered and were cutting pieces of cardboard and preparing placards for their picket. There seemed to be some level of uncertainty, however, about how to proceed with the protest action. By 11:30 a.m., only four vans had gathered in front of the shop. One van driver told SEARCHLIGHT that they were waiting for other omnibuses to arrive.

SEARCHLIGHT also understands that in the early stages of the strike yesterday, two van drivers were taken into custody by the police. At press time, it was, however, not clear if any charges had been brought against them. Some of the drivers told SEARCHLIGHT, that as a measure of support for the drivers who had been arrested, they would drive to the Central Police Station and protest there.

However, shortly after midday yesterday, president of NOBA Anthony Bacchus confirmed the strike was off, as he was satisfied with the fact that work is being done.

The NOBA head said he took a trip to see where the patchwork was being done and was told that workers were in the process of cutting the holes until they reach the most affected areas.

“We made a commitment that once we see them working on the road, we will call of the strike, but the guys came out this morning and started a process which I think was very successful,” Bacchus said.

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