“Place more emphasis on the state of the van stand and less on uniforms.”
This was the view of many owners and operators of public service vehicles (PSVs) to Government, as news circulated that a strict dress code was being enforced by the Transport Authority from April 7.
Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said in a statement that the purpose of the uniform – a cream or grey short-sleeved dress shirt and long black pants or skirt – is to “create a new public image, a new brand for these operators”.
“I have instructed the Transport Authority to implement a policy for the use of uniforms for the Minibus and Route Taxi drivers and conductors. The authority has executed this instruction and the necessary information has been supplied to each operator. I expect that effective April 7, 2014, all minibus and route taxi operators will be attired in the appropriate uniforms,” he said.
“We need to change the way business is conducted by minibus and route taxi operators. The new business approach must embrace a customer focused perspective. This is the first step in the right direction with the implementation of a formal dress code,” the minister stated.
When Barbados TODAY visited the Fairchild Street van terminal this morning, many of the drivers and conductors made it known they did not mind wearing the adequate attire.
However many of them made it known how they felt in general about the filthy conditions in the van stand and what they thought should be done with in general. Many of them said if the relevant authorities wanted to touch on good productivity and service then they should focus heavily on the contaminated conditions of the grounds, especially when the rain fell and the area was flooded which often caused many small businesses in the area to have to close and minibus drivers to stop work. The rains, they maintained, resulted in unpleasant conditions and a rank smell coming from the flood waters.
Operator Kyle Bishop, a driver who operates in the Howells & Ivy, St Michael route, said come April he would be prepared to wear the uniform as required and believed it was a good idea, but shared his concerns about the state of the van stand.
“I feel it is the right thing they are doing to make us wear uniforms because many of us dress too roughly and we need uniforms and therefore I am not vex about it. But in this van stand really needs fixing up because you would find in this van stand as soon as the rain falls there is bare water which makes the place looks like dog. On Sundays we do business in here and the bathrooms in the van stand shut down as a public place which is real nonsense. So yes they should deal with the condition of the van stand before they address this uniform issue,” Bishop said.
Another PSV driver, Bernard Mullin, told Barbados TODAY that other legislation should be put in place before the uniforms and such legislation should address the issue of the conditions when rain falls and the behaviour of school children who purposely destroy the vans.
“We really need someone who is not pushing their own agenda but have the best interest of the operators at heart and who could sit down with those in authority and address these issues. I do not mind wearing the uniforms but they should focus on things like the bathrooms and people who have to sit for a good while in the vans and wait until the rain stops to go about their business. So they need to look at putting some form of shelter in place for persons who use the PSVs when the rain falls,” Mullins said.
Clyde Nurse, another operator, said when rain fell, passengers could not get into the area and those who could shelter had to avoid getting wet from the leakage in the ceiling, and those were the issues that needed to be addressed.
Nurse said: “There needs to be a lot more police presence in the van stand especially after three o’clock when the school children are out from school because many of them threatens us with knives saying they would kill us or harm us because we have to speak to them about their behaviour.”
A young minibus driver, Ronaldo Prescod said wearing the uniform would make the operators look more professional and there comes a time when everyone must abide by the law. However just like his colleagues he wanted to see something done about the state of the van stand especially about not having any street lights which could create opportunities for robbers, as has happened more than once. Additionally, many of the operators are asking whether there would be more police presence and persons from the licensing authority when the uniforms come in to play next month. Many of them argue that if they are required to wear the uniforms then more authorities should be made present in the van stand to cut down some of the lawless which took place on a daily basis.
For many of them, wearing the uniform would “separate the sheep from the goats”.
Under the Uniform and Dress Code for Drivers and Conductors of Routed, Privately-owned PSVs, not only will workers be required to wear the specified tops and bottoms and ensure that closing is not excessively tight or loose, but they must wear enclosed black shoes or boots with socks and have their ID badges conspicuously displayed on the front of the shirt. The Transport Authority will have the right to suspend or revoke a permit for non-compliance with the uniform and dress code.