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NOBA proposes guidelines to curb ‘disorganized’ transportation system

NOBA proposes guidelines to curb ‘disorganized’ transportation system

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by Azanie Lavia

The National OmniBus Association (NOBA) is pleading with the Government to implement laws against what they consider to be the “reckless”, “unprofessional” and “disorganized” behaviour of some van drivers across St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

NOBA made its plea at a press-conference held at the Haddon Hotel at McKie’s Hill, on July 15 during which they discussed the changes they want made in the operation of omnibuses here.

Reading from a proposal to the Transport Board, dated June 15, 2015, president of NOBA Anthony Bacchus listed some recommendations which they feel will ensure “safety, efficiency and sustainability.”

NOBA proposes a new line-up system, increased inspections, drug and alcohol testings, assessing medical fitness, reduction of the maximum number of passengers, price of short drops, adoption of the code of practice, zoning of vans, stronger enforcement of the Traffic Act, training of drivers and conductors, regulation and registration with NOBA.

These recommendations were offered because, according to NOBA, the transportation system in St Vincent is “disorganized,” “too competitive,” “uncomfortable” and the drivers were said to have a “blatant disregard” for the traffic regulations.

Besides Bacchus (driver of the van ‘Code Red’), other members representing NOBA at the press conference were vice-president Julian Little (driver of ‘West Side’), marketing officer Angus McKie (driver of Rock Star) and public relations officer Abdul Woodley (driver of Hasib). Bacchus was the chairperson at the conference.

NOBA has also developed a bus operators code of practice, with the aim “to establish protocols and standards for bus operators to ensure that the travelling public is served by a safe, reliable, efficient and organised transport system.”

The code of practice requires that all passenger buses to seek the approval of the Transport Board and register with NOBA before becoming operational. Their recommended driver qualifications entail that drivers should be at least 25 years of age, possess a minimum of three years driving experience and hold a Defensive Driving Certificate. Drivers and conductors are expected to be professional, courteous and helpful; they must not eat or drink while passengers are on board and they also must not use foul language while passengers are in the vehicle. The minibus drivers and conductors must be appropriately attired, with the drivers wearing the NOBA uniform, which is a blue polo shirt with the NOBA logo and a LIME Upgrade SVG logo, seeing that they were sponsored by LIME.

Safety is a must, according to NOBA, when it comes to the operation of omnibuses here in SVG. Emphasis would be placed on vehicle roadworthiness, that the opening and closing of van doors should only be done when the vehicle is at a standstill and that “no more conductor standing over passengers.”

Everyone should be seated while the vehicle is in operation, including the conductor.

Marketing officer Angus Mckie said the fluctuation of gas prices should not influence changes in van fares.

“It would be too hectic if every time a gas price drop or raise, the van price drop or raise.”

Bacchus said that sometimes he finds himself “involved in things that [he] cannot help really because the way in which the buses are situated in St Vincent right now, if you can’t keep up, you lose.” He said that the transport system should be organized and everyone should be registered under NOBA. He also stated that passengers should only ride buses with the NOBA logo attached to them as they adopt the proper conduct. They proposed the idea of putting numbers on the vans as logos.

The members of NOBA emphasized the point that unless the Government makes their recommendations law, the drivers would not adhere to the rules and regulations that they have offered.

Mckie said that they have had numerous meetings with the police and the police “just can’t wait” until their recommendations are adopted. They also stressed that if the Government does not jump onboard, then the Government “like it so.”

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