By Tanya Smith-Cartwright
Bus drivers are losing income of up to $1,200 per week after the country’s services have been shut down without notice to stakeholders.
Members of the bus service industry reacted to the news on Friday after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis issued orders of curfew and shutdown of certain businesses. The Bahamas has now recorded its fourth case of the COVID-19 virus.
Under the Prime Minister’s emergency orders, no omnibuses, or jitneys, are to be in service to the public initially for the next 11 days. Social distancing of up to three feet between each person has been ordered and on this premise the bus system was shut down.
Harrison Moxey, president/chairman of the United Public Transportation Company, said: “These are abrupt measures. We are going to have to try to weather this storm and it’s going to be very hard. We had no warning about this and found out when the Prime Minister announced it to everyone else, but we understand that the government is taking the necessary steps to stop the spread of this virus. We understand but this is going to affect us terribly.
“I am going to have a conversation with the Prime Minister on what assistance can be given to us, as I am not really sure if the assistance being offered to those affected by the virus applies to us.”
Economy Bus Line and Service proprietor Lamont Rahming also feels that the effect of the shutdown will have a drastic effect on the industry.
“We are a service-based business and if we can’t even offer the service that is going to have a drastic effect on us,” Rahming stressed. “This is how we make our money. We do understand the reason behind the shutdown and we support it. There is definitely going to be a drastic effect on us from a financial standpoint.
“We can only hope that this shutdown does not go beyond 11 days. At least we can still go to the grocery stores etc. We can only keep our fingers crossed that this virus is curtailed quickly and we can go back to normalcy.”
Giving ballpark figures, Rahming said bus drivers, depending on the routes, can make from $500 up to $1,200 a week
The Bahamas Unified Bus Drivers Union sent a notice to the public on Friday informing of the suspension of services.
“Dear our valued customers due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is regrettable to inform you that of 9am this morning all public buses will suspend services for the next 11 days.
“We do apologise to you the general public we also ask that you follow our Facebook page (Bahamas Unified Bus Drivers Union) for updates as they come.
“May the lord guide and protect us all in this our time.”
“The shutdown of the bus system has really affected me,” said bus user Marjorie Smith. “I rely on it to get from point A to point B. I am going have to ask people for rides. This is going to be the longest 11 days ever. I never dreamed this would happen and I only found out this morning. This is a real setback for me.”
Worldwide, there are 255,305 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, 87,351 cases of people who have recovered from it and 10,444 confirmed deaths. Locally there are ten people in the quarantine facility and 32 people who have been released from quarantine.
• This story has been corrected to say bus drivers are losing income of up to $1,200 per week - NOT $1,200 per day as it originally stated.