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NOBA ends strike action – reverts to old rates

NOBA ends strike action – reverts to old rates

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The protest action taken by members of the National Omni-bus Association (NOBA) is off, with President Anthony Bacchus saying that the members of the Association have agreed to revert to the 2005 approved rates.{{more}}

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, Bacchus said that members had taken the decision to totally reject the fare increases recently approved by government, a decision NOBA’s president said was taken to show solidarity with those operators in the fourteen areas that did not receive an increase.

He did, however, indicate that members had agreed to implement the 50 per cent fare rate to school children between the ages of 4 and 16 in and out of school uniform, as had been gazetted on August 8 this year.

The announcement came one day after some members withdrew their services and after NOBA’s President had indicated that the withdrawal of service would have continued until Wednesday of this week, and next Monday, September 5.

Bacchus said on Monday, August 29, that he believed that the protest action had been effective, even though many mini-bus operators failed to take part. But Bacchus explained that the latest decision was taken because of the lack of co-operation from some mini-bus operators.

“We tried to get them an increase, but they did not co-operate,” Bacchus said.

He also expressed his disappointment, saying that members were “disappointed with those drivers that did not support us when we went out to fight for them to get an increase.”

“There were some members that supported the strike 100 percent,” Bacchus told SEARCHLIGHT.

Areas including Calliaqua, Richland Park, Greiggs, Chateaubelair, Georgetown, Largo Heights and those North of the Dry River were commended by Bacchus for supporting the planned action. “We are disappointed with the other members, because we demonstrated on their behalf so they can get an increase. This didn’t work, so we are going with plan B,” Bacchus said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Transport, Works, Urban Development and Local Government Senator Julian Francis when contacted to comment on the decision said that the rates had already been approved and gazetted by law and that charging the 2011 rates was not illegal.

“That is a matter for the mini-bus association and the individual members,” Francis said.

He explained that the newly approved rates were the maximum that mini-bus operators could charge their customers, but that it was based on the discretion of the individual driver. The transport minister told SEARCHLIGHT that he had contacted Bacchus indicating that he (Francis) was prepared to sit with the mini-bus association, along with a committee that has been crafted to deal with issues of concern to the traveling public.

Francis made it clear that he was not going to discuss any further the issue of fare increases until the concerns of the traveling public were dealt with.

“Somebody has to look out for them (traveling public),” Francis said.

The committee will comprise members from NOBA, the Ministry of Transport etc, the Police, the taxi drivers’ association and, according to Francis, five members of the public representing five locations across the country.

“I am open for discussion at anytime, once we can put the committee together and we set up an agenda to discuss not only fares but the entire operation.”

Bacchus responded by indicating that the long term plan for his association included the placement of the association’s logo on the vehicles of its members and the implementation of identification cards for members. He also said that his association had intentions of sitting with the Minister to begin addressing the concerns of the traveling public.

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