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4B minibus operators in Vieux-Fort North are back to their jobs after four days of protest action.
The bus operators decided to end the protest action after meeting with Chief Transport Officer Lenita Joseph, who reportedly promised to address their concerns next month.
The bus operators began plying their routes from yesterday (Tuesday), bringing much relief to commuters who were annoyed by their actions.
Sheldon Leriche, secretary of the 4B Minibus Drivers Association, described the meeting he had with Joseph as “cordial”, adding that they are back on their jobs on the assumption that the Transport Board will do good on its promise of settling the matter within 21 days.
“They asked us to give them 21 days to solve the issue, starting from yesterday (Tuesday). It’ a waiting game… we’re back with the waiting game,” Leriche told St. Lucia News Online.
He said that he gave the Transport Board the assurance that he would convince the drivers of the route to go back to work and give them (the Board) time to deal with the issue, adding that not all the drivers were in full agreement with this decision.
Leriche said if the matter is not resolved within 21 days they will have no other choice but to take protest action again.
“We want the problem to be resolved by or before September 9 because we have waited too long for our concerns to be addressed,” he said.
According to Leriche, initially they had no intention of taking protest action, describing it as “unfortunate”.
In justifying their claim for their adjusted bus fares to come into effect, he said that while in 2008 all routes had an increase in their bus fares, they did not.
2008 was the last time there was a bus fare increase.
Leriche, however, commended Joseph for her professionalism in handling the matter, adding that it is because of her the drivers calmed down and went back to work.
In dismissing claims that their actions have something to do with politics, he said: ”When the mistake on their price list was made, we were under Flambeau, then going through the process, we pass through the Labour administration, and now we’re back under Flambeau.”
As it relates to why they can’t make the terrible condition of the roads an issue at this time, Leriche said it was the previous administration that left them with the kind of roads they have now, so they can’t put pressure on the current administration for its condition.