Judged on merit!
That’s how interim chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) Morris Lee believes magistrates should issue fines against public service vehicle (PSV) operators who find themselves before the law court.
Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley recently told PSV operators he would not seek to influence court decisions after operators complained that some magistrates were handing down excessive fines against them.
This was one of the grievances which the owners and operators raised when they met Lashley last week for talks on the structure of PSV operations here. The two sides also discussed the issuing of permits to oversaturated routes and
Lee has admitted that there are unruly drivers, who he argued should be dealt with to the full extent of the law. However, he contended that it was wrong to treat everyone as if they were chronic offenders.
“I would admit there are some PSV operators who continue to commit the same offences over and over again. However, I don’t think an operator who only has a few charges should be dealt with in the same way,” he told Barbados TODAY during an interview today.
“Also, I think the nature of the offences should also be taken into consideration. Take for example if a man had previous convictions for working without his badge, or for the bus not having a spare tire or a fire extinguisher, he should not be treated the same as an unruly operator who has chalked up repeated traffic convictions.”
In what appeared to be a position contrary to the one taken by Lee, when a Barbados TODAY team visited the Cheapside Bus Terminal most of the operators interviewed said they had no issues with the fines being handed down.
In fact, they said most of the PSV drivers and conductors who received those heavy fines deserved it.
“The fines ain’t too stiff. The drivers and conductors just ain’t learning,” one veteran minivan driver of 22 years stated.
“They just keep going back and doing the same thing over and over. I know that sometimes a fella would take a chance, but half of them that come after me got more charges than me.”
One ZR driver even boasted that he had gone seven years without going to court.
“You have to do the things that are right. All of us are out here hustling trying to make a dollar, but at the end of the day it isn’t going to make sense if the money I make during the week I have to end up paying back to the court,” the 16-year veteran explained.
“In all my years of driving ZR I’ve only been to court six times. You don’t have to break the law repeatedly.”
However, one minibus driver who also chose to remain anonymous said he believed the fines for overloading were too stiff. He said the law stated that the first five passengers over the limit should carry a $25 fine. Once past that limit, he said it was a further $25 per person.
“But when you get to court the magistrate charging you $1,000 for having eight passengers in excess. That is unfair man,” he argued.