By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A public transportation stakeholder is excited to be “back in swing” as jitneys will be allowed to operate with limited capacity today after the second COVID-19 related shutdown in six months.
In accordance with the latest emergency orders, the competent authority (the Prime Minister’s Office) announced it would reopen the economy with many businesses slated to resume operations following a series of lockdowns. However, initially this prohibited bus drivers. All of which culminated with Friday’s motorcade and protest organised by the United Public Transportation Company (UPTC), where scores of jitneys drove from Arawak Cay to then be lined off on RM Bailey Park as a sign of protest and solidarity.
Harrison Moxey, the UPTC president, told Tribune Business yesterday, “yeah, they are allowing us to operate at 50 percent. We are back in swing, so we will take it at one step at a time.
“Everyone is ready to go back on the road, but we will have to see who all decides to go out with 50 percent. We have to give back the public’s confidence that busses will be there again. I really can’t say what the demand would be like, but we know that at the first time we reopened in July, demand was pretty weak. So we would have to see what that is going to mean.”
This comes as Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced, during yesterday’s press conference, that public busses are allowed to resume starting today at 50 percent of their capacity.
Mr Moxey estimates that it is going to be “rough” starting off but he and his members are happy for the opportunity to, “go back and build momentum again because at any point we start we have to gain momentum and the public trust.”
Busses were shut down completely for the second time in six months, with the first happening in March when the first COVID-19 emergency lockdown orders were announced. They were allowed to resume operations on July 1 to carry 50 percent of their bus capacity before another shut down at the beginning of August by the competent authority during COVID related lockdowns.
Mr Moxey said about the motorcade and protest: “This is good. The fight was well worth it and we are thankful for that opportunity to go out and at least the guys can be able to make a hustle for survival.”
“We wrote the prime minister’s office and we took the protest to the street, expressing our concerns and when we took to the motorcade we wrote to the police commissioner for the approval for the motorcade, it was granted, well it was a rocky start because we didn’t make the approval but he allowed us to go forward.”
Mr Moxey further stated that nobody informed him busses were going to be allowed to resume operations tomorrow as he heard it for the first time during the prime minister’s press conference yesterday.
“This is how they operate, we had to listen for the announcement yesterday. We didn’t know beforehand, we got word through the backdoor that we were going to be a go but we had to wait for the prime minister to say we are going to open up and so as we speak to everyone in general and then the news would come. I don’t know why and how they do what they do.”