The main Opposition Barbados Labour Party has called on the Freundel Stuart administration to intervene at the financially troubled Transport Board.
Opposition spokesman Dwight Sutherland, parliamentary representative for St George South, today warned that the statutory institution’s debt burden was out of control, putting it in serious peril.
“Stop putting up smokescreens, stop putting up window dressing. These are serious times and we have to find solutions,” Sutherland said, in a message to Minister of Transport Michael Lashley.
He pointed out that the Transport Board had a $30 million debt, a portion of it owed to Sol, and had also exhausted its $10 million overdraft.
“It calls for a very serious intervention on behalf of the board and management at the Transport Board. I’m not sure what will be done . . . . I want to say that we’ve reached a stage in this country that our citizens do not have an efficient transport system. It has impacted productivity in the workforce and also in the school system,” he said.
This afternoon Sutherland, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, and St Thomas parliamentary representative Thomas, Cynthia Forde toured the Princess Alice Terminal, Fairchild Street Bus Terminal and River Bus Stand to hear, firsthand, issues affecting bus workers and commuters.
Sutherland told the media they heard a litany of complaints at all the facilities, among them the absence of a shed at the Princess Alice Terminal and the inability of buses exiting Bridgetown to travel north on to Baxter’s Road as opposed to going around the Princess Alice Highway.
At the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal, he said, they had heard of plans to reduce the number of security guards per shift, from four to two.
“I don’t know how they expect these two security guards to manage the schoolchildren and all of the commuters who are travelling through the Fairchild Street Terminal with what we’ve seen recently,” Sutherland said.
“We’ve seen escalating issues, I won’t call it riots, but a number of issues have shown their heads in The City and if, at this time, you’re going to remove two security guards per shift, then you’re really asking for trouble in this country.
“In addition to that, we also learnt that after 1 a.m, there’ll be no security guards in the Fairchild Street Terminal until 6 a.m, so we have gap of five hours whereby people can come in and do as they like with the government’s assets,” the MP said, adding that the situation bordered on gross negligence.