Minister of Health John Boyce is calling on Barbados cell service providers to join with the Government in a campaign to stop road users from talking and texting on their phones while driving.
Declaring open a Digicel retail outlet in Oistins today after company CEO Mark Linehan announced a $25 million expansion, the minister stopped short of announcing any plan by the Government to strengthen legislation outlawing such practices, but called on the island’s two cellphone companies to help get the message across to customers through moral suasion.
“It should be the responsibility of all mobile phone providers, like Digicel, to ensure the dissemination of information that tells the mobile phone customer that driving and texting, and using cellphones is not safe,” Boyce said.
Boyce, Member of Parliament for the Christ Church South, encompassing Oistins, said that Digicel’s presence in Barbados had hastened the growth of mobile phone use here. There is however a negative side, he added, pointing to “an almost standard use of phones by drivers”.
“It has to be stopped,” Boyce said.
Citing statics on how cellphones are employed by owners, he declared that persons had become so dependent on cellphone usage that they were applied as pacifiers.
He told Digicel company executives: “We have an opportunity to work together and to lead this charge. Work with the Ministry of Transport and Works, work with the Ministry of Health, and Work with the Barbados National Road Safety Council to help us tackle this issue.”
The Digicel outlet in Oistins is the 20th opened in Barbados since the company began service in this island in 2004, and Boyce said: “This is a wonderful addition to the business profile of this town.”
Revealing that Digicel planned pumping $25 million into its local network within six months, CEO Mark Linehan said that since upgrading its network the company had seen a significant increase in data usage. This, he said, shows a strong appetite among people in Barbados for data usage, “which justifies our $25 million spend planned for the next six months to further expand our 4G reach across the island”.
“Our opening in Oistins is proof . . . that despite the many challenges that are being reported, Digicel believes in Barbados,” he said.
“For some time we have been searching for the right location to make our presence felt here in Barbados’ largest and most famous fishing village,” Linehan said.
Describing Oistins as “a vibrant community and business hub”, he noted: “After dark [it] turns into one of this island’s most active social centres for locals and visitors alike.”
In recognition of the area’s extended activity, the husband and wife operators of the new outlet, Mark and Alicia Holford, will have their doors open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.