by Roy R. Morris
New minister, last warning!
Minibus and ZR operators and owners have been told by new Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley, to shape-up fast since he has no intention of presiding over chaos or sitting idly while commuters suffer through filthy “lyrics” while travelling on public service vehicles.
Lashley also told Barbados TODAY could expect to be in “decent uniforms” in short order as he will not tolerate “sweaty conductors in armhole shirts and slippers stretching all over passengers”, while providing a vital service.
The former Minister of Housing who took over the transport portfolio after the February 21 general election, stressed that while he would do all in his power to see that operators get a fair break, he believed commuters had been at the receiving end long enough.
In about two months, the minister revealed, work would begin on a new $4 million terminal at Seaview, Cheapside in the City, that will be the island’s first purpose-built facility for the accommodation of both Transport Board and privately operated buses, minibuses and route taxi.
Under no circumstances though, explained the minister, will private operators be allowed to take their unacceptable conduct into this facility.
“That’s why I will be pushing to have all drivers and conductors in uniform very shortly,” Lashley said. “I just don’t think it is a good practice to have these young men working in armhole shorts and slippers, and therefore bringing about order and discipline will be one of my priorities.”
He added: “We have also had some discussion on the music, which too often is loud and obscene and it has to stop… We cannot subject our people to that… They should see this as a last warning. I don’t have a problem with people playing their radios … letting people hear decent music, the news or the call-in programmes, but those lewd and obscene CDs have to go.”
Barbados TODAY investigations showed that the new 7,300 square foot terminal building at Seaview will be constructed parallel with Cheapside Road, will feature three entrances/exits to facilitate large volumes of people, a large covered area with seating for commuters, separate toilets for commuters, terminal staff and shop operators, three food shops, terminal manager and bus inspectors offices, police post, lunchroom and other facilities.
“This terminal will inject new economic life into this section of Bridgetown,” the minister said.
In addition to the work at Cheapside, the minister pointed out, the Ministry of Transport was about to seek “expressions of interest” from the private sector for the construction of a new Fairchild Street terminal complex that would also accommodate both public and private sector operators.
However, he noted that during a recent tour of the minibus and route taxi terminal at the River, he was “not at all happy” with the conditions under which operators and commuters function, and he would be having discussions with the Transport Authority to see what interim measures could be put in place until the new terminal comes on line.
Additionally, Lashley told Barbados TODAY that he expects to hold discussions with relevant parties on the upgrading of the fleet of the state-owned Transport Board.
“For sure the fleet is an ageing one,” Lashley said, “to the extent that it is impacting negatively on the maintenance cost of the Transport Board, and we will have no choice but to look very seriously at upgrading the stock. We will have to examine purchase options and lease options.” [email protected]
by Roy R. Morris