Chairman of the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael is calling for more female operators in the private transport system, suggesting that a woman’s touch would go a long way in eliminating the frequent incidence of reckless driving plaguing the sector.
So sickened are the owners by the current state of affairs that Raphael told Barbados TODAY that the option of importing drivers, who may be more amenable to operating within the boundaries of traffic the laws of Barbados, was seriously considered.
Instead it now seems that women could be the saviours of the sector, which has developed a reputation for recklessness and indiscipline.
Raphael made the disclosure following last night’s meeting of industry stakeholders at the National Union of Public Workers headquarters at Dalkeith Road, St Michael.
He said the few female minibus and ZR operators currently in the system have distinguished themselves as model drivers.
The AOPT chairman revealed that based on the reports available to him, female drivers were more averse to taking the risks their male counterparts regard as par for the course.
“The risk that the male drivers would take I am aware that the female drivers would not take. For example leaving the terminal onto Nursery Drive [The City] where those long lines of PSVs line up. Hardly you would find a female driver wanting to take the risk with all those people’s lives,” Raphael said.
Without providing statistics to support his claim, Raphael said based on feedback female PSV drivers had become a preferred choice of insurance companies.
“I have also found that more parents want to leave their children with a female driver in terms of taking them to school and bringing them back. We have had good reports from the few female drivers that we have had over last couple of years. However, we would like to see an increase in the numbers because we have seen some good driving practices and we are seeing fewer accidents among them,” he added.
The PSV spokesman was also of the opinion that the stigma resulting from the poor reputation of the industry had served to repel female drivers.
It’s a problem, which Raphael hopes to solve with a recruitment drive and other innovative incentives.
“We are planning a recruitment drive in the next year where we can show them the benefits of driving a PSV and that it is not all that bad. Actually you can make more money as a driver than working at a gas station,” he said.
“Even the Transport Board over the last few years or so have a number of female drivers as well. So I really want to encourage women to consider this as a career option because they are truly needed,” Raphael stressed.
Public Relations Officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force Inspector Roland Cobbler supported Raphael’s position to some degree.
However, he said because of the disparity between the number of male and female PSV drivers it was difficult to predict trends once more females were employed as drivers.