Transport Minister Stephenson King’s assertion that minibus operators are violating the rights of young women has not gone down well with the operators.
The National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT) Public Relations Officer, Spencer Mc Phee told St. Lucia Times that the bus operators were taken aback and disgusted over the Minister’s accusation.
“The whole sector was taken aback by that statement and I can tell you, operators are disgusted. They are very disgusted by that statement,” the NCOPT official declared.
“You basically are castigating almost every operator as people who interfere with children who are under age and stuff like that,” Mc Phee stated.
Last week, responding to the NCOPT’s complaints about poor road conditions, King welcomed the organisations concerns.
But he had concerns of his own.
“I also would like the National Transportation Council to address the issues pertaining to minibus operators who are violating the laws, the laws which govern the operation of public transportation in Saint Lucia and others who are violating the rights of other people – the rights of young women and other people,” King told reporters.
The NCOPT Public Relations Officer said the former Prime Minister’s statement was unfortunate.
Mc Phee said the NCOPT did not want a war of words with King and has not so engaged with any government.
Nevertheless, the NCOPT official said King needs to understand that the regulations are clear.
“If he is very versed with the regulations, it states that the Minister is in a position to deal with this situation. However, if there is a situation like that, I think it could have been handled differently,” Mc Phee asserted.
He said King could have met with the NCOPT.
“Based on how he spoke, he seems to have some information which we don’t have,’ Mc Phee told St. Lucia Times.
“I think it is unethical the way he is going, and if it continues in that trend, it can be disastrous for the sector,” Mc Phee warned.
He indicated that suggesting bus operators were violating young women’s rights was a police matter.
“The Minister is equipped with information that we don’t know, so he should go to the police. But according to the regulations, he is the best person to act on that information, not the NCOPT. He can inform us and we can have a formal meeting,” Mc Phee started.
He noted that the NCOPT has always maintained a cordial relationship with the Minister, the Ministry, and the government.
Headline photo (L to R) Spencer Mc Phee & Stephenson King