Acts of violence and vandalism have driven transport authorities to seriously consider installing surveillance cameras and other security technology in both private and public bus terminals here.
Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley has also revealed that his ministry was contemplating putting “personnel” on school buses to keep an eye on the pupils “once it’s within our finances”.
“We have had some instances of vandalism to our buses and also worrying behavior in the terminals, particularly Fairchild Street Terminal. So it’s a two-pronged approach that we are taking to be able to look and see what is happening and really to have control over certain behaviours out there,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY in an interview.
The minister was referring to a recent stone-throwing incident which resulted in a schoolboy being injured in the face while on a bus at Fairview, Christ Church. A 15-year-old boy is currently on bail in connection with that incident.
There was also a case involving schoolgirls fighting in the Fairchild Street Terminal. That incident was captured on video and went viral on social media. Four girls have been charged in connection with the fight and are due to appear in Juvenile Court tomorrow.
“We know that on an evidential basis, producing the evidence in court might be a challenge, but certainly it will act as a deterrent,” Lashley argued.
While it is still under consideration, the recommendation already has the full backing of Shone Gibbs, president of the Barbados National Council of Public Teacher Associations (BNCPTA).
“The immediate [response] must be an initiative like that where we again get back truancy officers in place to get children off to school and . . . where we put again marshals or police on buses and such like,” Gibbs told Barbados TODAY.
Lashley explained that the approach being adopted will play a major role in aiding authorities, especially the police.
“It’s something that we are actually discussing and looking at the possibility of installation of cameras and the use of technology in terminals so that we will be able to have better monitoring and better control of how we deploy the buses on particularly routes,” he said.
The minister explained that due to financial constraints it is not always possible to monitor what is happening at the terminals in order to determine where there was greatest demand for buses at particular times.
“We certainly believe that once we have these cameras in that area and using the technology and we have somebody at a back office who can assess it very early, then we will be able to properly and more efficiently deploy the buses to suit the demand for the particular routes,” he explained.
Lashley revealed that talks were already taking place in a bid to source the required equipment for installation in the River van stand on John Beckles Drive, The City.
“We are actively engaging some persons in terms of installing cameras in the River terminal. We have heard of a number of instances of rebelling, we have heard of a number of [cases of] anti-social behavior out there in River terminal and we believe that the installation of cameras will give us a good idea and also of how we are going to deploy personnel out there and also to relate to the authorities who can have control out there in relation to the River terminal,” Lashley said.
He disclosed that consultations have been ongoing and a meeting is scheduled for Friday with various parties who provide surveillance cameras and satellite tracking systems to further discuss the matter.
He added once his ministry had costings for the equipment that is within its finances, “then we will go right ahead.”
The Minister of Transport reiterated that his ministry would be taking a closer look at children who “joyride” on public transport and would also consider the reintroduction of also bus fees for students. However, he said this would first need to go before Cabinet.