The Congress Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) has called for an urgent national consultation on the island’s transportation system.
CTUSAB’s General Secretary, Dennis De Peiza made this appeal today in a press release, saying the time was “right for a review” as there was a need to address issues impacting the delivery of a dedicated and efficient transport service.
“It is imperative that the country has a well-managed, regulated and dedicated public transportation system, as this would ensure the members of the public have ready access to transportation to and from work, school, and to engage in social and recreational activities,” De Peiza said in the release.
Pointing to the issues which led public service vehicle (PSV) operators to stage two days of strike action, De Peiza said those problems had been festering for far too long and had the potential to create “a national crisis”.
On January 2, scores of drivers parked their vehicles leaving passengers stranded at the Lower Green and the Constitution River terminals while operators who ply the Speightstown joined their peers in withholding transporation services.
The operators were up in arms over issues relating to the cost of the mandatory uniforms with Barbados Transport Authority’s crest and the severity of penalties for specific infractions among other matters affecting their trade.
Six days later, on January 8, the first day of the second school term when thousands of students were returning to the classroom after the Christmas break, the operators again shut off their engines and converged on the compound of the NUPW after officials at the transport authority failed to meet with them as they had scheduled.
The operators, who have formed the Public Service Vehicle Workers’ Assocation to represent their interests, returned to work the following day and held mid week talks with the authority’s Chairman Ian Estwick and others.
The union release noted: “Over time, several issues have emerged which call into question the management, regulation, coordination, policing and efficiency of the public transport system in Barbados.
“CTUSAB makes the observation that these are serious drawbacks, which have the potential to create a national crisis. The current issues being raised by the public service operators are nothing new, and it is unfortunate that these matters have not previously been thoroughly and firmly addressed by the authorities,” De Peiza said.
He however made it clear that the “indiscipline” which has characterized the public transportation sector, particularly by the PSV’s and minibus operators needed to be arrested.
“There must be the exercise of the political will to treat to the growing problems within the sector,” said the union’s general secretary who also made mention of the service provided by the Transport Board.
“The quality and efficiency of the service provided by the Transport Board are matters of public concern, which must also be reviewed and addressed. The subject of a scheduled bus service, which includes the service provided by the Transport Board, PSV’s and minibuses to ensure that commuters across the island have access between 6 a.m. and midnight, needs to be fully discussed,” he stated.