The head of the national parent teacher association is calling for students to boycott ZR vans, as Minister of Transport Michael Lashley served notice of a Cabinet proposal that would give students a deadline to get on Transport Board buses in order to ride free.
In light of the abuse of the system, Lashley said the move would force schoolchildren to board buses before 9 am if they wanted to travel without paying.
“We are going to put our heads together; we will prepare the paper and once it is approved . . . about 8:45 [am] will be the cut-off point for schoolchildren and after that time, of course, they will have to pay to travel on Transport Board buses,” he said during a tour of the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal with Minister of Education Ronald Jones this morning.
“It is not a policy as yet, but given what we are seeing and given what we are looking at in terms of the Transport Board, that is something that we have to take into account.”
Jones also told the media that he would be keeping a close eye on the situation to crack down on those students waiting on particular buses and those who appeared to be joyriding.
“We understand and we know that the later a child gets to school, the more difficult it is for that child to study. Studying takes place better in the morning period and up to lunch. In the afternoon, because children are tired, you don’t get the kind of production that you want so our aim is always to get them to school,” he said.
“We are not looking to punish those trying their best to get to school on time, it is those who are recalcitrant and who don’t care about actually going to school.”
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, president of the Barbados National Council for Parent-Teacher Association Rhonda Blackman raised specific concerns about the safety of students who ride on ZR vans, especially in light of last week’s shooting on a route taxi.
“The Government has provided free public transportation for all students and they would be putting themselves at risk if they drive on the ZR vans. Mind you, I am not here to take away bread from anybody but we are looking at safety and security and parents have to be cognisant of the dangers and the culture on the ZR vans,” she said, adding that the level of violence, in general, was a major concern for the association.
“Therefore, if you want to put your child at risk then it’s up to you but . . . the Government has put measures in place that it believes would be more safe and secure. We recommend that you follow the measures that are in place.”
But interim chairman of the association of private transport operators (APTO), Morris Lee argued that violence is not limited to ZR vans.
However, he did acknowledge that all public service vehicles (PSV) operators should provide optimum service to their passengers.
“The Transport Board has had its share of fights, and so on, on their buses as well. Children could be exposed to it on any one [bus],” he said in an interview with Barbados TODAY
“We’ve urged our members to ensure that they provide valued service to customers, whether they’re schoolchildren or adults. Any children coming on the PSVs obviously should be afforded safe and professional service.”