Bus operators reportedly not happy with quantity or rules laid down to access fuel-subsidy programme

Bus men reportedly are not pleased with the quantity of discounted fuel they are to receive as part of the fuel-subsidy programme for public-transportation operators and fishermen.

The Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board is responsible for administering the subsidy vouchers, with the weekly allocation per vehicle being 40 gallons for taxis and 50 gallons for buses.

REAL News received information that operators at the East Bus Station held discussions on the matter earlier today, March 25, since they have issues with the programme.

The Transport Board has issued basic rules governing the use of the vouchers.  These include the proper registration of operators and vehicles, with their being active and in good standing with the agency.

The cost per gallon for the discounted fuel is $12, and the voucher can be used only for the specific vehicle listed, since it is non-transferable and cannot be used by any other person.

Operators must also ensure that their vehicles can actually take the quantity of fuel listed on the vouchers, which “are valid for 10 days only,” the Transport Board says.

“All expired or unused fuel vouchers must be returned to the Transport Board within 48 hours [and] any violation of the rules … may result in the suspension of [the operator’s] permit and the withdrawal of the said fuel subsidy,” the Board warns.

Another stipulation for accessing and continuing to benefit from the subsidy voucher is that operators must pay their statutory deductions to the Social Security and Medical Benefits Schemes and the Board of Education within three months.

Reportedly, only West Indies Oil Company service stations can take part in the initiative and four have been identified.  They are AL&B Enterprise (Barnes on Airport Road); Mount Joy Service Station; Spencer’s Service Station; and Percival’s Service Station on the Valley Road.

Cabinet Notes say that taxi and bus operators and fishermen started to benefit from the programme on Thursday, March 24.

The Transport Board and the Ministry for Fisheries were responsible for developing the voucher system.

The Government says it instituted the programme to ensure that taxi and bus fares will remain the same, and the price per pound for fish and other seafood will remain unchanged.