A leading road safety advocate is accusing some public service vehicle (PSV) operators of engaging in the dangerous practice of drinking on the job.
President of the Road Safety Association of Barbados Sharmane Roland-Bowen did not provide statistics to back her claim, but she said too many taxi and PSV drivers and conductors were consuming alcohol while at work.
Roland-Bowen claimed that the practice was even more prevalent during the Crop Over season.
“There is nothing to stop these taxi men or these public service vehicles men from drinking and driving, there is nothing to do it. And they do it. There is proof and evidence that they do it. It makes no sense that you feel that you are not capable to drive home and put your life in somebody else’ hand and that person is not capable because that person is under the influence of alcohol. It makes no sense,” she lamented.
“You can see them doing it . . . and it is like they don’t be shame. They do it openly with passengers in the vehicles. They don’t hide and do it.”
The road safety campaigner spoke against the background of a partnership involving insurance company Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance (CGI), telecommunications company Flow and BeepCap, a taxi booking application that will be used to secure transportation for drivers of private vehicles found to have had too much to drink.
The partnership encourages voluntary breathalyzer testing for patrons at various Crop Over events, a move which received the full backing of Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss.
Roland-Bowen told Barbados TODAY she would be happy if the PSV drivers would pledge to abstain from alcohol during their work hours. In addition, she suggested that “all bus drivers around” should agree to random breathalyzer testing.
“I know the public would be so much more reassured that they are putting their lives in capable hands or responsible hands pertaining to taxi drivers,” Roland-Bowen said.
She said along with the breathalyzer, she hoped Government would take the firm decision to enact legislation to address the issue of driving while intoxicated.
The two associations representing PSV owners agreed the situation was one that needed to be addressed and they were working to find solutions.
However, chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) Maurice Lee told Barbados TODAY the situation was not limited to the transportation industry.
“We have always expressed concern about operators drinking while operating PSVs, as conductors and drivers. And for the last decade I have been calling frequently for breathalyzer testing and drug testing for our PSV operators and to date that has not form part of the legislation,” Lee said.
“The Government finds it easier to attempt to legislate uniforms and not breathalyzer test. The public will be able to determine which is more important, to have a driver that can easily pass a breathalyzer test or one that can wear a shirt that is properly pressed,” he said.
Meanwhile chairman of the Owners of Public Transport Inc (AOPT) Roy Raphael admitted that drivers and conductors drank on the job, but said the problem was not widespread.
Raphael told Barbados TODAY the owners were monitoring the situation in an effort to arrest it and were encouraging the travelling public to report any driver or conducted observed drinking.