Transport operator Morris Lee has described a video, which has been making the rounds on social media showing school children hanging out a moving ZR van’s windows as another example of how those in the business “shoot ourselves in the foot”.
Lee’s comments came yesterday at the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Dalkeith headquarters, as members of public transport associations — The Alliance of Owners of Public Transportation, the Association of Public Transportation Operators, Drivers Against Reckless Driving — and officials of the NUPW met to discuss the way forward for the industry in the wake of last Tuesday’s tragic ZR accident.
Referring to the video, Lee said it is of, “a ZR plying somewhere in the north, full of school children, [with] children sitting in the window with their body outside beating up the roof”.
He pointed out that the reckless display had occurred less than a week after the incident in the River bus terminal.
School girl Zakiyah Defreitas suffered a crushed arm when the ZR in which she along with other Springer Memorial School students were travelling, flipped while heading into the Nursery Drive terminal. Some of the other children and additional passengers suffered minor injuries, but Defreitas’ injury was so severe that doctors had to amputate her arm.
Lee acknowledged that the video on social media was not the only recent instance of recklessness by public transport drivers.
“I have seen with my two eyes behaviour patterns of some of the PSVs after this accident that is engaging the public’s attention that need not be.”
He warned that those who were now obeying the rules may be doing so for a short time only.
“You will find some drivers quiet down in the aftermath of this, but after a forth night, a month, then it is this cutthroat thing all over again.”
He suggested that vehicle owners in the industry clean up their image.
“What we could do for starters, given the fact that a young lady almost lost her life . . . I believe that what we should be considering doing at this moment, in the small window of opportunity that we have, is seek to create a fund, dedicated to that lady to be able to finance her after-care”.
Lee said the image of public transport operators was so bad, that should Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler triple their licence fees in tomorrow’s budget presentation, “the public would support it”.
“Right now they are going to use every negative aspect of the business to their advantage. What we have to do is to fight back by using the human element in order to get the public to understand that we are not the monsters that they are making us out to be.”
The Alliance of Owners of Public Transportation President, Roy Raphael, told Barbados TODAY that though Lee’s proposal for a fund was favoured, all owners would have to agree on how it would be implemented.