Representatives of various Saint Lucia driving schools staged a demonstration Monday outside the Greaham Louisy Administrative Building in Castries.
They said their action was intended to call attention to disrespect shown them by the authorities.
“We are here today because we got a notice from the Ministry of Infrastructure suspending theory and practical examinations with immediate effect,” the Secretary of the National Association of Driving Schools (NADS), Kingson Jean, told St Lucia Times.
Jean said there had been no proper consultation with driving schools before the measure was introduced.
“We thought that was a sign of disrespect to us and we thought it was unfair to the students and the driving school instructors,” the NADS official asserted.
“We are hoping today to meet with the prime minister and have some sort of consultation with the prime minister or the minister of transport concerning the way forward,” Jean said.
He noted that many other industries are working, but driving schools have essentially been prohibited from functioning.
“Once people cannot get the theory or practical exams, what’s the point of being in a driving school?”
“The whole point of being in a driving school is to get a driver’s license,” Jean observed.
He said he attempted to get the attention of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
According to the NADS official, Chastanet indicated that he did not have sufficient time at his disposal.
“However he said that the Minister of Transport will meet with us today, but he did not give me a time,’ Jean stated.
He lamented that a lack of consultation has been a problem with the Allen Chastanet administration ‘for the longest while.’
“They make decisions on behalf of our sector and don’t inform us,” Jean told St Lucia Times.
He expressed the view that protocols could have been in place to allow driving schools to continue operating amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could have had protocols where we limit the number of persons for the practical exam – just the examiner and the student. We could have had a reduced number of persons in a room for the theory exam – right now they have 25. We could have reduced it to 10,” Jean declared.
He estimated that more than twenty of the some 40 local driving schools in Saint Lucia were represented at Monday’s demonstration.