Letters & Opinion, Sounding Off

Transporting Sardines

Image of Rochelle Gonzales

IT’S been a while since I’ve addressed the antics of minibus drivers who use their “service” as a weapon to hold commuters who have no other mode of transportation hostage, but today, I’m back on your cases.

It has now become increasingly common to hear a mother getting on like a mother bear for her child who she refuses to allow greedy bus drivers to squeeze to get an extra buck fifty…literally.

Now as a mother myself, I’m usually on the mothers’ side especially when I know that I’m paying for the space that my child is using up and a service on the whole. I usually wonder why should my child have to be “smooshed” to suit the driver’s pocket?

Whilst I might not agree with the way in which the “exchanges” take place especially the language that is used by the same parents around the children whose rights they are quarrelling for, I do agree that we need to stand up for our rights and the rights of our little ones.

Another thing that comes to mind, again as a mother (and yes, we mothers tend to over think and fret over what might seem to be nothing for most but where our babies are concerned, we don’t care, we’re fretting) I tend to think of the “what ifs” and picture tragedies like the Morne Sion accident in Choiseul that claimed the lives 19 (17 accounted for and two unaccounted for)…What if the bus is overloaded and there is another terrible accident? What do I do? Who is to be blamed?

I’ve found myself trying on many occasions to explain to drivers why I’m not going to allow two other people to sit next to me when my eight year old is already seated right next to me and the seat is designed for three. But those cases usually end with me getting off to go onto another bus as my patience for nonsense is extremely limited.

I’ve seen drivers pack five children on one seat and all I could do was shake my head as the said drivers would refuse to drive off unless the seats are chock full.

This led me to wonder what the legalities were surrounding this issue and surely enough, I rang the traffic department of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force to find out.

I was told that by law, children three years of age and under MUST be seated on an adult and monies should not be paid for their transportation, in the case of children under 10, they can be counted two in place of one adult and children over the age of 10 are counted as one just like the adults but pay student fees if they are in uniform.

So whilst I was silenced in my belief that children should not be squeezed (and I still believe that…discretion should come into play on this matter depending on the size of the children), my beliefs were somewhat solidified because I see the drivers demanding that children even in secondary school uniform, scoot over to accommodate one more to use up all the space.

So there, parents and fellow commuters/users of public transport, it is ILLEGAL to have your child 10 years or over being told to make way for a fourth passenger on a seat for three.

And it doesn’t end with just the children you know. I have seen adults being bullied into squeezing for the driver’s convenience…this is against the law. If your vehicle is a 14 seater, it should contain 14 people and not 20.

Drivers, stop being so greedy and adhere to the laws. We all know that your job is not easy but no one wants to sit on a vehicle for any amount of time being stuck to God knows who!

Commuters, whilst I would never incite riots, violence or tensions, it is always a bonus to know your rights and I implore you to practise them.

Rochelle entered the Media fraternity in May 2011 as a fresh-faced young woman with a passion for the English language, a thirst for worldly knowledge and a longing to inform the world of what was happening around them, whether it was good or bad.

She began as part of a small news team at Choice Television, which falls under the MediaZone umbrella. She was hired as one of the original members of the newly created Choice News Now team...Read full bio...


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