The National Council of Public Transportation (NCOPT) has announced plans to discuss a perception among some of its members that the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) is engaging in ‘selective enforcement’ of laws.
The council says officers seem to focus on ensuring that bus drivers adhere to the COVID-19 protocol regarding passenger loads while excluding other enforcement matters.
“We will seek a meeting with the police to talk about that perception of selective policing,” NCOPT President Godfrey Ferdinand told St Lucia Times.
Ferdinand disclosed that within four days, the police issued some 20 tickets to minibus operators for carrying more than the ten passengers allowed as per the COVID-19 protocols.
He told St Lucia Times the matter is a source of frustration and anger among members of the NCOPT who explain that the police are not present at other times when bus operators need them.
“They’re saying that when they need assistance from the police in terms of theft, police presence in the night, police presence in terms of crimes against bus operators and piracy, always there’s none,” Ferdinand stated.
“It seems in the humble opinion of the operators that the only crime is carrying excess passengers, so that is causing them to be agitated and very angry and say they feel they are being targeted and it is selective enforcement. There’s no enforcement for piracy, there’s no enforcement for persons picking up passengers in the wrong place on a route or offloading buses, there’s no crime for that but there’s ticketing for capacity and there is this overwhelming presence of the police for that one particular thing,” the NCOPT official told St Lucia Times.
At the same time, Ferdinand said bus operators have noted that the police do not appear to be targeting company buses that transport employees in the same way.
In addition, Ferdinand expressed concern over how the COVID-19 protocols are changing, saying that it is creating some issues.
“The operators always have issues with the ten passengers, bearing in mind that there can be no social distancing on a public bus in their humble opinion,” he disclosed.
Ferdinand told St Lucia Times that his organisation plans to raise that issue with the authorities and discuss the possibility of adopting one standard passenger protocol instead of one that fluctuates.
“Right now, it’s ten. Before it was twelve. The operators are asking, ‘What’s the difference?'”
The NCOPT President also said bus operators question whether there’s proof that the COVID-19 virus is spreading in minibuses and the basis for the reduction in passenger numbers.
“Is there any science to prove that two persons less on a bus will cause the infection rate to go down? Is there any science to prove that, if we are going by the science?” Ferdinand quoted NCOPT members as saying.
Headline photo: Internet file image