The owners of public service vehicles cannot be held solely responsible for the reckless actions of the drivers who they hire to operate their route taxis.
In fact, spokesperson for the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Ingrid King believes the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) has to shoulder some of the blame.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY this afternoon. King maintained that the MTW was the agency responsible for issuing permits to route taxi drivers and conductors.
“These drivers and conductors are licensed by the Ministry of Transport and Works. I believe if the Ministry of Transport and Works continues to renew their badges, basically they are the ones saying that they are fit to continue in the service,” she explained.
King contended that in some cases, owners had no clue when their drivers or conductors were charged with traffic offences.
She said it would be more appropriate if owners were made aware of infractions committed by their employees.
“So what we have here in terms of notification is that there are a lot of times when an owner does not know that a driver has been charged, or an owner does not know that a driver or conductor has been convicted. This is something that within the industry we’ve called for a long time.
“For example, why are the owners not notified if you are going to ask them to take responsibility? A driver or conductor can go to court on his day off without the owner ever knowing that’s where he has gone or the reason he has gone for. So if you are going to ask the owners to take responsibility, I think you are going to have to be a lot more willing to share the information with owners, and it’s not within the existing protocol,” King noted.
She was responding to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s call for the owners of ZR vans to be penalized for the actions of the drivers they hire.
“We penalize the drivers, they go and work for somebody else, and the owners get someone else to drive and not feel it in their pockets. I figure that is where we need to start. Begin and end with the owners, because if a guy can’t make money, the foolishness that goes on will come to an end, [or] at least will be substantially eradicated,” the Attorney General said.
However, while King admitted that owners of PSVs should accept some responsibility, she warned that they could not be held liable for the actions of others.
“I say that we have to talk very seriously about what was suggested, because if, as most owners will do, they trust a driver who has been licensed by MTW and has been cleared by his insurance and he allows that driver to drive his vehicle under the conditions that he understands and agrees to operate according to existing law, I think beyond that, if something happens you are certainly going to have to look at a question of culpability in terms of what the driver has done beyond the scope of what he has been instructed to do,” King argued.
“Because certainly some of the offences that we hear of are nothing at all that would be instructed by any responsible owner. A lot of them would not ever be approved of, so I think we would be less than honest if we’d say that a lot of what we see is something that any owner would approve of.”