The Association of Private Transport Operators (APTO) is backing Government’s proposal, in principle, to legislate a 25-year minimum age for persons to be eligible to drive public service vehicles (PSVs).
However, interim president Morris Lee told Barbados TODAY this evening that such a decision, should be taken on a case-by-case basis.
“The insurance companies already have that 25-year eligibility in place already. I have no difficulty with it, in principle. My only problem is that there are individuals under 25 years of age who would have left school seven years ago that, in my opinion, if they are considered to be mature they should not be restricted from getting the licence,” he insisted.
“Truth be told, if they are asked to comply with the things in place already, such as a police certificate of character and they can get a letter of good standing from a person of good reputation within society such as a pastor, they should be allowed to get into the system,” he added, noting that age was not necessarily an indication of maturity.
As for the requirement that drivers also have four years’ experience, the APTO spokesman suggested that “should be carefully studied before it is implemented”.
“If some person gets a licence at 25 and the ministry insists they have to have four years experience, that means they have to wait until they are 29 years old to drive, so they get the licence and still have to turn around and sit down for four years . . . As long as you get the licence, you should be allowed to drive. That’s how you gain experience,” he argued.
Addressing a meeting with stakeholders in the transport sector at the Combermere School last evening, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said the age and driving experience requirements were among changes to the Road Traffic Act to improve the transportation system.
The others include mandatory inspection of PSVs every six months and breathalyzer testing. The amendments will also address speeding and the use of communications devices while driving.
The amendments will be taken to Parliament in another few months.
Lashley also told the gathering that the Transport Authority Act would also have to be revisited.
“The fact is there are no regulations existing at this time to carry out the provisions of the Act. I can report that the regulations . . . have been forwarded to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) and once the CPC is confident and comfortable the regulations will be laid in Parliament. There are some weaknesses in the Act as far as the inspectorate is concerned,” he said.
Using the Jamaica Transport Authority as an example, the minister said that legislation speaks to the powers of transport inspectors – an element missing in Barbados’ legislation.
“The Jamaica legislation says an inspector or a constable may, at any time, stop and inspect public passenger vehicles, carry out inspection of conductors and drivers and the licences held by the conductors and drivers. The inspector or constable has the power to seize any vehicle that is acting as a pirate. Our legislation, passed in 2007, is a good piece of legislation but any legislation needs some beefing up at some time and the necessary amendments to make it stronger,” Lashley said.
He told his audience that there were cases of people using their private cars as hired vehicles during the busy Crop Over festival without paying the requisite fees for permits and road tax.
Lashley warned illegal operators that they would face the full force of the law when the Road Traffic amendments
The ministry is also giving consideration to introducing electronic metres in taxis, Lashley disclosed.
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