Green Hill van operators on strike
Public transport operators who move persons between Green Hill and Kingstown say that plying their trade on the Central Kingstown route is creating potholes in their pockets.
So, to protest what the deplorable road conditions, the eight or so vans that work the route did not start their engines yesterday morning, leaving commuters stranded.
Van drivers, conductors and their supporters, congregated on the main road in Green Hill outside Esther’s Shop and according to Rohan Scott, they are fed up with the condition of the road.
He explained that over two weeks ago, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Transport of Works to bring the situation to their attention.
“But we never get a response, so we decided we will strike because if you don’t create an uproar in St Vincent is it like nothing ain’t happening,” said Scott.
He said the plan is to strike until they get word of when the road will be fixed.
“If we don’t get a response from the government we willing to strike until,” said the driver of the minivan “Infamous”.
He said that it is very hard to operate under the current road conditions as front end parts including shocks, springs, rubbers, bushings and even tires have to be changed frequently, causing drivers, collectively, thousands and thousands of dollars for maintenance.
“There are vans parked up because insurance and license can’t pay, and this is just because you can’t operate under these conditions and maintain your vehicle.”
He said they have spoken to their counterparts from Redemption Sharpes and the drivers have agreed to stay off the Green Hill route, in full support of the strike.
“No outside van can come in, we will block them,” stressed Scott.
Tretius Haynes has been plying the Green Hill route for seven years and said no work has been done on the road for the last five years and because of the rigors of operating on such a piece of pavement, van drivers are suffering.
“They have to do something about this thing, man fed up of this thing. I will strike and as long as the road ain’t fix we striking,” said Haynes who said striking is affecting his income but not striking is doing the same thing.
Angus Haynes, a driver with one year’s experience commented, “the condition never change, it just getting worse. Change is for the worse not the better. The speed bumps in the road is also an issue, they touching under the van.”
The angry van man said the strike is affecting earnings, but he does not care as if he makes EC$200, he spends it back in parts.
“…So, we decide that it better now to take a week off than to go spend EC$300 something every day because is some problem every day.
We will strike as long as it takes,” Angus said, adding that vehicle and driver’s licenses have increased but nothing is being done about the road.
Cameron Williams, another driver said, “when you buy a vehicle and can’t maintain it, the vehicle will go right down. Money paid on licensing should be used to maintain the road. I driving over 25 years and they need to do something.”
Vonley Haynes Jr also voiced his displeasure.
“…There was no response from the letter so like they asking, ‘is who is we?’ and we don’t like that,” said Haynes.
On Monday, Dominic Sutherland, candidate hopeful for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in Central Kingstown spoke with the drivers to assist with establishing communication with Julian Francis, Minister of Transport and Works.
Sutherland did not speak to the media but said he wished to act as a mediator on the issue.
Minister Francis met with the minibus drivers yesterday and promised that work on the road will begin next Monday or Tuesday.
However, Scott said that strike action may continue until Wednesday as the drivers move to cement their displeasure.