Some public service vehicle (PSV) owners are not in support of the contracts being offered to them by the Transport Authority as part of Government’s Transport Augmentation programme.
They aired their displeasure this afternoon following a four-hour meeting at the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Solidarity House headquarters.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley revealed that due to a shortage of buses at the Transport Board, the services of private PSVs would be contracted to work alongside the board in an effort to adequately transport commuters.
Mottley said while there was currently between 50 to 70 buses at the Transport Board, the ideal number of vehicles required to service the routes would be around 270.
But speaking to Barbados TODAY this afternoon, the irate owners said the contract stipulated that they pay 12.5 per cent of their earnings to Government. They said during Wednesday’s meeting at Government Headquarters PSV owners had suggested that they pay five per cent.
However, they said the Prime Minister dismissed that figure and countered by offering 15 per cent.
The owners said Mottley eventually settled on the 12.5 per cent figure.
They contended that they should not have to pay such a high price for helping Government.
“If the Government is asking for help from us the PSV owners, why then should we have to pay them such a high percentage?” one disgruntled owner questioned.
“It would make no sense for any PSV owner to work under that arrangement.”
Another owner told Barbados TODAY that the contract demanded PSV operators work from 5 a.m. until midnight.
It was also stipulated that no driver could work for more than ten hours. He said this meant owners would have to pay two drivers to work on any given day.
“That’s an additional expense at the hands of PSV owners,” he said.
Furthermore, the owner said PSVs were also being asked to “work to time”. He said this too was not profitable for PSVs.
“If we are supposed to leave the terminal at 7 p.m. and only three people are present, we are still expected to run the route,” he said.
“While I appreciate the Transport Board and the service it provides, PSVs can’t operate in that manner because we aren’t given subsidies.
This is a business for us and at the end of the day this is how we feed our families so we can’t work like that.”
Ironically, their concerns were raised after both Minister of Transport Dr William Duguid and chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick reported progress had been made in reaching an agreement on the contracts.
Estwick said they hope to wrap up negotiations by next Wednesday.
“We were looking to zero in on the contracts and to have the information and feedback from the contract to have it perfected. So we are at that point now. We will then go back and do the corrections and make the amendments and get our attorneys to look at it and then send it back out to the people who are here,” the chairman told Barbados TODAY.
Minister Duguid said while this was the first meeting addressing the contracts, there would be further consultations.
“The first meeting was with some of the PSV providers to try and get our contract accepted and work through the draft to be able to start to implement our Transport Augmentation Programme and that work is in progress,” he said.