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Minibus operators give government ultimatum

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The National Omnibus Association (NOBA) has given the Unity Labour Party administration an ultimatum to fix the Windward highway or face strike action.

NOBA threatened to withdraw the bus service if the government does not resurface the road between Brownstown in Georgetown and Colonarie. {{more}}

The Association’s public relations officer, Len Grant told SVG TV earlier this week that if the road is not resurfaced with asphalt in two weeks then the vans will strike for two days each week until the road is resurfaced. He added that if the strike action is not successful, the Association would meet again to discuss further action.

Grant pointed out that as a result of the condition of the roads, operators are experiencing greater difficulty in maintaining their buses.

But, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Julian Francis is blaming the rain for the deteriorating conditions and for the delay in completing the highway. He said he had been advised by his consultants that because of the rains the project will not be before December 31. However, Dipcon, the contractor, feels it will not be completed before May next year.

Francis said his administration is trying to maintain the highway to “keep some level of comfort” and to “reduce the heavy expenditure” that vehicle owners are presently experiencing.

Following a meeting, Dipcon has agreed to a December 13 extended deadline to start the asphalt work. And Minister Francis has given Dipcon an ultimatum.

“Dipcon must start laying asphalt. If this does not happen, the Ministry of Works and the consultant and the European Union will move to employ another contractor to complete those works, or, employ sub-contractors to do asphalt paving for which Dipcon is responsible,” he stated.

Francis added firmly that there would be no other cost and charges to the government or the European Union. He explained that “liquidated damages” are charges levied against the contractors who fail to meet their project deadline, and in Dipcon’s case liquidated damages could be implemented.

“They have been threatened that from the 6th of December, if it appears that they will not meet the extended deadline that liquidated damages will be implemented at EC$5,000 per day up to a maximum of five per cent of the contract price, which would put us at about $500,000,” Francis said.