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Larger Buses not an Option – MCWT&PU

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Monday, June 20, 2005 - Officials of the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities have said Government has no plans to remove mini-bus drivers from their route in the North of the island and to turnover the route to a French company.

At a press conference Monday at the studios of the Government Information Service (GIS) Public Utilities Minister Honourable Felix Finisterre indicated that the confusion about the phasing out of 14-seater buses in favour of larger 40 to 50-seater coaches could have arisen from an erroneous interpretation of the recommendations of an options report prepared for the Government on improving traffic flow in the city of Castries

The report - City of Castries Traffic Management Survey - funded by the Agence Francais d’Development (ADF) and overseen by consulting engineering firm Halcrow Group Ltd, looked at remedial measures to address the parking problems of the city, the construction of two bus terminals to service northbound and southbound buses, the city’s beautification, rationalisation of the use of streets and the setting up of an independent parking authority.

According to Minister Finisterre, the French consultants who conducted the survey suggested moving to the larger buses based on its success in neighbouring Martinique, but he said government made it clear from the outset this would not be an option for Saint Lucia.

“From my personal perspective, when I saw the Options Report I read it and I took a red pen and placed an x next to the proposal which pointed to attempts to phase or buy out mini-bus drivers. Along with that x I also placed some comments saying no, this could not work.” Mr. Finisterre said.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities Mr. Jerome Jules said consultations with all stakeholders on the recommendations from the study’s Options Report continues and no concrete decisions on the way forward have yet been taken. He said the Ministry’s participatory approach will cause stakeholders and the general public to have a say on which of the options recommended in the report should be implemented. “With a study of that nature, obviously you have to allow the consultants to determine as objectively as possible, what they think are workable and to provide these options to the stakeholders or to the clients. It is then left to the clients having had stakeholder consultations to advise the consultants on what they think are feasible and what requires further action,” Mr. Jules said.

The Options Report the Permanent Secretary said was an initial presentation of what the alternatives are that the Government of Saint Lucia can pursue. Meantime a two-day visit to Martinique carded for July 8th & 9th has been arranged to bring stakeholders up to speed on how that French dependent territory has been able to handle and manage its traffic problems.

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