The umbrella organization, which represents owners of privately-run public service vehicles, Tuesday called on Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley to urgently intervene to avert possible protests by operators.
This follows an incident, which reportedly occurred in the River Van Terminal on Tuesday.
While warning that it was the final straw, Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael reported that police were called in and that three drivers, who were “legitimately” parked in the terminal, were ordered by transport inspectors to leave the area.
Raphael said even though the operators, who ply the Sugar Hill, St Joseph route, had previously received permission in writing from the Ministry to use the parking area, they were all kicked out of the area and sent to the headquarters of the Barbados Licensing Authority in the Pine, St Michael to undergo re-inspection after they failed to supply the necessary proof.
“I’m asking the Ministry to investigate the matter as soon as possible,” an angry Raphael said.
He complained that while the operators have been doing all within their power to clean up their act, they have received little cooperation from the authorities.
“We are trying to get our act together and we would like the cooperation of all sectors. We have seen an increase in good behaviour by the PSVs. We are getting less complaints from the public although there is still some work to be done, we are meeting with our members from time to time to encourage them to wear their uniforms . . . and I’m saying that over the last six months, although the Minister of Transport would have set up a special committee . . . so that we can have a direct ear to the Minister and his team, we have met once,” Raphael told Barbados TODAY.
He said, so frustrated were the operators that his organization recently advised them during a meeting that it was time to pull their vehicles off the road.
“We were told again we need to work with the Minister to avoid disruption in public transport. We agreed in principle we were going to wait and meet with the Minister. We have since contacted the Deputy Permanent Secretary [in the Ministry of Transport & Works] and asked him to convene a meeting which we are awaiting for him to have a discussion,” the PSV spokesman said.
He also warned that time was about to run out for settlement of a number of outstanding matters, including a proposed increase in bus fares and duty free concessions for operators.
“I believe the time has come for us to take industrial action, but again, industrial action is not my call, it is a joint committee effort. We would again, like to avert any industrial action or protest action that would come out of the fact that there is no meeting set during the last six months by the Ministry or the Minister of Transport and Works.
“So I am therefore calling on the Minister to use his good offices to allow the meeting to be held or convened by the Deputy Permanent Secretary so we can have the issues like the one yesterday with the transport inspectors [settled] . . . .
“We see it as total harassment. And I believe the time may have to come to generally look at some kind of industrial action and protest action,” Raphael warned.