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BREAKING NEWS: Driving schools association warns of “serious protest action” against government

By SNO Staff

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Transport Minister Guy Joseph (left) and Infrastructure Minister Stephenson King.

Transport Minister Guy Joseph (left) and Infrastructure Minister Stephenson King.

The National Association of Driving Schools (NADS) has warned of “serious protest action” soon if their pursuit for dialogue with the government over a myriad of problems continues to be ignored.

In a statement today, May 12, NADS Public Relations Officer Kingson Jean made it clear that the association does not wish to embarrass any administration “but this is what happens when you ignore people’s concerns”.

The association said Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour Stephenson King and Minister for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation, Guy Joseph have failed to address their concerns formally.

“With the past administration we at least had dialogue to address this issue. With this new administration, the driving school association (N.A.D.S) had written no less than 3 letters from the time they took office. To this date (12 May 2017) not even an acknowledgment of N.A D.S letters have been forthcoming,” Jean wrote.

He added: “Two weeks ago the members of the association decided to hold protest action so we can be heard by the government. Minister Stephenson King got word of our intended protest action and told our President Thomar Francis to give him a copies of the letters sent to the minister of transport and the prime minister.

“He promised by word of mouth to bring it to Cabinet on the Wednesday and that he would get back to our president no later than this past Wednesday 10th ay. To this date. Not a word, not a word, not a word.”

Problems and concerns that require urgent attention, according to the association, include: abundance of examiner absences, backlog in driver’s license practical testing, understaffed system, an additional cost of $50 made to the first-time practical exam without public notice, window and a clerk for driving schools removed without notice, and officials failing on their promises to address their concerns, among other issues.

“The public is to expect a serious protest action in the coming days which will affect the country on a whole if our issues are not addressed in the quickest possible time,” Jean said.

Several members of the public have contacted St. Lucia News Online over the past two weeks, noting their concerns about the delay in doing their practical exams.

One student wrote: “Imagine drivers theory exam, which is supposed to take at least one week is over a month and no results. I did mine on the 26th of April and no results up to now. Some people did on the 12th and no results yet no one has any idea why the delay…. When I ask all they are saying is it’s not ready and I need to do my practical already.”

BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT FROM NADS

The abundance of examiner absences have caused a backlog in driver’s license practical testing in an already understaffed system. Many applicants say their recent wait is about two months before they can take a road test.

Students receive information relayed through driving instructors not the ministry. The ministry relay the information to the driving instructors through a WhatsApp message by a junior staff member or word of mouth a day or two prior to the absence of that examiner.

For example, Friday before the following week commences, that exams have been pushed back as a result of a last-minute absence of an examiner.

Many of the issues are caused not by the absence itself, but rather the last-minute notifications of these absences, for reasons it has been advised, that were previously known by the ministry.

It has been said allegedly that one examiner sought “vacation to campaign for elections” and another more recently allegedly for “elective surgery, known way in advance and the most recent an examiner better known as SOS was sent on leave, but the driving school instructors were notified the Friday prior to his leave on the Tuesday.

The department is already heavily understaffed, and these last-minute absences do nothing to alleviate the already burdened process. Whereas it is with in persons right to take vacation or sick leave, and of course unforeseen circumstances do happen, there seems to be no form of HR oversight.

If an examiner wants to request vacation shouldn’t there be a minimum notification period that should be put in place, so that the number of examination slots can be increased to deal with the demand ahead of that absence? Additionally, considering the number of applicants for a driving license increases annually, shouldn’t the number of examiners be increased to alleviate the back log, and be able to accommodate without interruption planned or unplanned absences by other examiners?

An examiner contract states that he has to do at least 8 exams a day and can do more as a matter of choice. However, if a situation arises where a student who is booked for that day can’t make it, the examiner is not obligated to fit any other student to do that exam in the slot of the absent student.

An examiner brings in no less than $8,000 to the ministry per month. They are paid a small fraction of that income generated as a result of their employment. Yet administration after administration has not seen the need to employ an additional 2 examiners.

Over 30 years ago the government had 3 examiners in their employment. This was OK when at that time there was only 10 driving instructors. In 2017 there are 64 license driving instructors. Yet there are still 3 examiners. This makes no logical sense.

With the past administration we at least had dialogue to address this issue. With this new administration, the driving school association (N.A.D.S) had written no less than 3 letters from the time they took office. To this date (12 May 2017) not even an acknowledgment of N.A D.S letters have been forthcoming.

Two weeks ago the members of the association decided to hold protest action so we can be heard by the government. Minister Stephenson King got word of our intended protest action and told our President Thomar Francis to give him a copies of the letters sent to the minister of transport and the prime minister.

He promised by word of mouth to bring it to Cabinet on the Wednesday and that he would get back to our president no later than this past Wednesday 10th ay. To this date. Not a word, not a word, not a word.

Other concerns the driving instructors have both in Castries and in Vieux-Fort were also highlighted in the letters.

Unknown to the public and also made known to us with immediate effect, an additional cost of $50 was made to the first-time practical exam. The association made no fuss as we were under the impression that the additional fees would be the means of justification to employ more examiners. But this is not the case. We were informed by the chief transport officer that this fee had always been there, just never implemented.

Mr. Guy Joseph had a huge problem last year when he was in opposition to a fee being implemented which was placed there when his party was in power previous. It was a fee where persons were being asked to pay for a permit for 1 year instead of 6 months.

We now saying that if the newly implemented additional fee of $50 is to remain, the public will need value for their money.

There was a window and a clerk given by government to deal with all matters concerning driving schools where we would not tie up the line where the general public do their various transaction. This clerk and window was taken away from us without notice. Now driving instructors use the same clerks as the general public which ties up the line for hours at the ministry, wasting valuable productive hours. Time is money.

Students now have to wait for weeks to get theory results. This is costing our Fair Helen money.

The association does not wish to embarrass any administration but this is what happens when you ignore people’s concerns. The public is to expect a serious protest action in the coming days which will affect the country on a whole if our issues are not addressed in the quickest possible time.

P.R.O
Kingson Jean.

(11)(12)
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33 comments

  1. Is the same dam nonsense they did to the National Trust. The National Trust requested a meeting with both the PM who is their Minister and the Constituency Rep as soon as they came into power to meet with them to talk about their work programme and what the National Trust has been doing over the last year and to discuss how they too can help support and advise the govt on any of its undertakings. The meeting has not been held to a day like today. But when they talk out Lucians take it and make a political issue out of it. Politicians need to realise that they are there to serve the people not come in with their agenda and go ahead with it without listening to what the people want. They is often room for compromise but they are afraid of meetings and consultations. Because their agenda is set whether or not people agree because they get their pay pay already or they have their own personal business they try to push. Case in point Chastanet does not want National Trust to put a conference room because it will give his private family business Coco Creole competition. Hhhmm look at Guy Joseph and his family jobs he did last time hes was in power.

    (0)(0)
  2. As long as we keep politicizing issues in st lucia nothing will get done. Politicians love that their party hacks will bark at anyone who complain about their performance. Let's face it, if you ever dealt with government offices you should know that some need to be fixed. There is a lack of work ethic, professionalism and discipline in some offices. We need to stop being quiet when certain party is in power and complain when the other is in. These issues affect everybody, so we need them fixed regardless of who is in power. We are turning Lucians against Lucians with this political nonsense. Sam flood talks a lot of shit when SLP in in power, and Francis talks plenty shit when UWP in power, these guys have no credibility with me because they are not objective. If you se a rat, Yellow or Red call it a rat. Wake the HELL UP LUCIANS!!!

    (2)(0)
  3. Although I sympathize with the schools on the basis that they are businesses which depends on satisfying student drivers and the backlog created by inefficiencies in government backfires on those businesses. However, I personally do not see the urgency in introducing more lame drivers on our congested roads.

    (0)(2)
  4. These driving instructors are just in it for the money. Government should put something in place to rate those instructors and or to test them to ensure that they teach correctly.

    You have instructors who will lie to you to get you to spend more time and money. You have those who waste people's time. At one time I asked an instructor to work on something I was having difficulty with, he said we don't have time to do xyz. Can you believe that?! I had one hour with the instructor but I was doing taxi service you see, picking up his next client and dropping off the client before me. So no time to work on my weak areas.

    (6)(1)
  5. SMH. Jean concentrate on teaching the right thing. Like don't turn right form northwest with a a student again. Stop putting ppl on the road who cannot drive. Teach the people to read and obey signs not what you all feel is correct. The ministry is understaff. That is a public service issue not a transport issue. Also even the AG office is understaffed yu dem protesting. What's all these nonsense about protesting? 4 years all u eh protest. Man Shut up.

    (1)(5)
  6. straight SHOOTER

    I keep wondering why does the driving schools teach people to drive on the castries gros is let high way during rush hours. I believe it is time they stop this practice because it does not make the student a better driver only makes it worst with fright. GUY JOSEPH is an idiot STEPHENSON KING is a good man but still you must listen to the driving schools, they may have some solutions to some of our problems facing drivers on the road.

    (3)(2)
  7. Beverly Expensive

    They want both hospitals open
    They want roads repairs
    They want mice address
    They want homes fix
    They want everything now now now
    Rome was not built in a day
    Now want to march driving school..sort la..lot coytay. .charging so much to teach someone how to drive..making a fortune on one student. Get behind your wheel and shut to the up..wait your turn

    (1)(4)
  8. I love my pm

    (4)(14)
  9. Driving schools is the biggest scam in here. I got my license in the USA. You know how long it took me to do so. One freaking day. A four hour defensive driving course. A 30 minute theory. A 15 minute practical. People have to spend months in driving school here and they still drive like crap on the roads. Clearly they learn nothing in those schools. Big borbol.

    (21)(7)
    • Let me guess, it was your very first time behind the wheel too.

      It takes a shorter time for a private learner (some one with access to a family or friend's vehicle) to learn than some one who does not have access to a vehicle because they can drive at any time and for longer periods than learners who rely on a school. Learners who use the schools are limited by finances and their work schedules and will therefore take a longer time.

      Even if they have all the practical experience or is a prodigy like you they still have to wait a week or more for the theory results and wait to get booked for the practical and you can not do the practical without the theory pass. Driving instructors have no control over this since this part falls under the Ministry.

      Driving instructors do not issue passes, if you want to blame the schools for the morons on our roads you should blame the examiners first because they are the ones who issue the pass. BTW have you ever seen any learner speeding or driving recklessly with an instructor?

      (3)(0)
    • there is no way you can get a drivers license in a day only if you have drived before and know how to drive . you think someone can practice driving in a day if they never drive and get a license in one day. who the hell you fooling. the only people that can do that are those that have been driving for donkey years without a license and they decide on going for their license. if someone in saint lucia has already had driving experience it should take them one month to get their license two for the most

      (6)(0)
    • How good of a driver are you? What do you know of instructing? Are you a parent who sees and knows what your child does with what you teach him/her?
      A one day license, how road savey are you?

      (1)(0)
    • my small minded friend...stop comparing small islands operations to the operations of a continent...though i get your point...do not compare it, go back to the US with your mind set and prosper there.

      (1)(0)
  10. Good luck lan for standing by your Government. You too will answer to The most high.

    (10)(7)
  11. Really? When they raise the license fee yourll couldn't March also. Why are we foolish people in St. Lucia are continuing to behave so political

    (26)(5)
  12. --- has been saying for years that he runs the ministry and --- is just the face so I expect nothing to come of any complaint against the examiners like himself. All they care about is failing learners unnecessarily (unless you're their friend) so you can wait another 2 weeks to redo the practical, pay another practical exam fee plus additional practice sessions. These examiners don't give one fuck about learners and their concerns. All they care about is the benefits and perceived clout that comes with the position.

    (5)(7)
    • Imagine if they passed all those not worthy, zMore accidents.

      (4)(2)
    • stop being ridiculous ,it took me 3 tries to get my license ( Manual) & you will not be given your license unless you try hard enough to impress the examiner especially mr. SOS .Take your time and put in the effort and you will get it .

      (3)(0)
      • All one has to do is pay sos
        and i am speaking from experience and you will see how fast you getting your license

        (0)(0)
  13. You had I a in 4.5yrs but within a year you threatening already. Kenny zot pè. You'll charging high rates for lessons some of you deliberately prolong the sessions telling student they not ready yet. Government should hire it own instructors to give lessons another way to create employment.

    (20)(11)
  14. So when you mentioned all these names and which administration did and did not do how comes you say it's non political. What is wrong with those SLP. People we don't over throw governmentbin this country, what we do is to allow them their term in office when they have done nothing to create such. I leave you and others of similar ilks for Guy Joseph he will deal with the likes of you and others.

    (9)(17)
  15. Exactly my point, All these concerns were there long before this government came into office. Because you all feel the government is under some pressure you want to add to it. Well go ahead.

    (13)(26)
  16. So if you had audiences with the past administrations like you said, why are there so many issues to be addressed? Y'all are too blatant and what y'all looking for y'all will get it. Y'all refusing to allow the government function.this is nonsense and as a bystander I will throw my support behind the government to do what's necessary for stability in this country. Enough of these stunts

    (35)(45)
    • Stop talking crap. All he ask for is at least an acknowledgement. People with problems at least want to know you are working towards it. Stop being ignorant!

      (33)(13)
    • Shut your ass. The issues increased now, whichever government that in power needs to address it.

      (30)(10)
    • You are clearly missing the point Ian. He said, at least an acknowledgement of the receipt of the letters should have been forthcoming.

      We need to stop politicizing everything if we are to honestly make progress in this very small country of ours.

      (37)(0)
    • Could not have said it any better... They are all haters

      (7)(2)
    • i agree 100% with you, because these driving schools operators showing their greedyness, the past administration took 4 years to address you'll esures, so what more esures do you'll have, its just 11 months sence the new adminisrtation is in power,, there is no esures to be fix with you'll, stop looking for more esures for you'll selves,and what you'll looking for you'll will get it

      (7)(24)

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