The Barbados Transport Authority today suspended the permit of the owner of ZR125 with immediate effect, after the van driven by Matthew Daniel of My Lords Hill, St Michael overturned near the River Bus Terminal in the City, injuring 10 school children, including a Springer Memorial student who was pinned under the vehicle.
Director Alex Linton told Barbados TODAY the permit would remain suspended until investigators had determined what caused the mass casualty on Nursery Drive.
While expressing deep concern about general lawlessness among public service vehicle (PSV) drivers on the streets of Barbados, Linton said he was also considering whether Daniel’s licence should be revoked.
In the wake of Tuesday afternoon’s incident which occurred around 2:30 p.m. the authorities were also looking to step up surveillance at all bus terminals, effective today.
“We will be stepping up surveillance of that terminal; not only that, but throughout the whole island, because I do not believe it is an isolated [case] just for that one. So we will be setting up necessary surveillance, so the public can rest assured we will be on top of matters,” Linton said.
Linton said he intended to launch his own probe into the company, which owns ZR125.
“The Transport Authority is mindful of the recent rise in incidents involving public service vehicles. We are taking the necessary steps to address these concerns. We are promoting the training programme which is taking place at the Barbados Community College (BCC) to change the operational behaviour of the said operators,” he said.
“We have, for this particular accident, called in the permit holders and the driver for an immediate meeting with the Transport Authority, and we will take the necessary appropriate action according to law,” Linton told Barbados TODAY.
While acknowledging the need for greater enforcement, as well as a heightened security presence on the island’s roads, the Transport Authority director said his organization was working with various Government agencies to make this happen.
“We are working on that with the various Government agencies to get further manpower to be on the road and give that degree of presence. But at this time we are obviously concerned. We are calling in operators; we have done that about three Thursdays ago with the Redman Village [St Thomas] operators and we are planning to do it with other operators.
“We are accelerating that programme we are putting in place.”
He also appealed to members of the public to assist the authority in stamping out lawlessness on the country’s roads by calling its hotline at 4271778.
This latest incident involving PSVs also has Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley hopping mad. Declaring that the behaviour of ZR and minibus operators is getting out of hand, Lashley told this newspaper he was summoning an urgent meeting with the Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and the Transport Authority to deal with this matter.
“I have already met with the Transport Authority in terms of ways and means as to how we are going to get around this. We need to have also the disciplinary committee of the Transport Authority brought into full action,” the Minister said.
While making it clear that he was not casting any judgement on this matter, Lashley said “once the facts reveal and a court decision that there was reckless driving, then, of course, the disciplinary committee of the Transport Authority will be called into action”.
And as the country waits for amended Road Traffic legislation with stiffer penalties and measures to become a reality, Lashley said additional inspectors would be placed on the roads.
“We have asked the Civil Service for transport inspectors [and] we have had a very favourable response, so we are looking to having additional traffic inspectors who will then be able to patrol this area properly,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY.
In the interim, the Ministry of Transport has submitted a plan to the Town & Country Planning Department for construction of a new River Terminal, which the Minister said would bring greater control to bear and end lawless behaviour and reckless driving in the bus stand itself.
“On the road, we hope the transport inspectors and the amendment to the Transport Authority Act would give them additional powers, more so than the powers they have at present to deal with these ZR drivers.”
Minister Lashley warned that the owners of ZRs would also come under serious scrutinity very shortly in terms of the persons they select to operate their vehicles. He expressed concern that even though the law now requires PSV workers to wear uniforms, they were still flouting the law.
“Quite frankly, some of these people . . . we have actually put the law in place in terms of uniforms, yet you see some of them still driving on the road in outfits [that attract $1,000 fines]. I cannot enforce the law. The transport inspectors at this present moment cannot enforce the law; it is members of the Royal Barbados Police Force that have to enforce the law,” said Minister Lashley, while noting that the proposed amended Road Traffic Act was now about 95 per cent complete.