The First Vice President of the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT), Kentry Frederick, says the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a ‘severe blow’ to the health and finances of bus drivers.
“It is not a nice situation as we speak,” Frederick told St Lucia Times.
“Based on the information we have – our internal data at the NCOPT’s office, we are looking at near 50 or thereabouts. It may be over that but that’s what we have at this time. The number is high,” he disclosed in terms of the number of infected drivers.
He said that the NCOPT was down to have dialogue Thursday and Friday with the Ministry of Transport regarding the way forward.
Frederick also revealed that some infected drivers still continued to work until they were spoken to and told to get off the route.
“We will be frank as I have said at the beginning of all this. For example, earlier this week – I will not give you the route or the numbers – there were two drivers who knew they were positive and whether out of sheer ignorance or desperation, they came to the route to work,” the NCOPT official disclosed.
“So what we had to tell these persons ‘You are positive and it is an offence knowing you have an illness and transmitting it. You can find yourself in prison.’ So at the association level we spoke to the Presidents or the executive members and they went to those individuals with the proper instructions and they left to go home. What could have happened between the time they went on the route being infected is another story.”
“It is not a story that we like to say but it is just the harsh reality,” Frederick asserted.
He explained that on Friday, the NCOPT will be having discussions at the COVID-19 Command Centre and making an appeal to members of the public.
“If you know somebody is ill – not just rumours, the person is ill, the person has tested positive and they are supposed to be home quarantined and they’re not, you have a responsibility to report the matter to the Ministry of Health or possibly the nearest police station, because that person can be coming on the bus and bring it to you. We are also appealing to members of the public – the idea of eating and drinking on the bus – they have to look at controlling that. There should be no eating on a public service minibus at this time,” Frederick said.
“We understand that persons have different little issues that they need to eat something, but you need to choose between your life and a habit,” he declared.