By Carlena Knight
Bus operators, whose main source of income is through transporting the public, can expect to realise more earnings after buses received the nod to return to operate at their capacity.
In a letter dated June 24, the Central Board of Health (CBH) informed the drivers that they could transport the maximum number of passengers allowed, given that “each passenger wears a face mask for the duration of the journey”.
The Covid-19 protocols had previously restricted large buses to transporting 16 passengers while small buses were allowed nine.
According to Keithroy Black, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Bus Association, the body will continue to monitor operations given the latest announcement of 39 positive cases in the country, but no restrictions at this time will be given to his drivers.
“I can assure you as president of the Bus Association that when we had the discussions, one of the things we looked at goes back to community-based spreads.
“If it gets into the communities, then we will have to revisit that decision in terms of what the government has made. It will not affect us at this point but again if it goes back to where a lot of persons in the community start to get the virus, then we will have to go back and revisit it and play our part to make sure that our people are protected,” Black said.
He said that the two factors he had pitched to the government in order to get approval were the financial struggle being faced by drivers as well as the reduced risk of the local spread of Covid-19.
“The executive of the Bus Association made representation. We had written to Cabinet because the bus drivers were really taking a hit as it relates to their finances, but notwithstanding, we took into consideration as well what is happening now in Antigua.
“All of us will have to play our part and from the very onset we were the ones that approached the government, letting them know what we can do to try and protect our passengers and the drivers. They readily agreed but we have to now live up to that expectation as well,” the association head said.
Black commended his drivers who he said have been taking the initiative to ensure they are properly equipped, and added that they will be reaching out to government for assistance for the extra set of drivers who will now return to the road.