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.