The Ministers of Transport, Works and Maintenance should be fired, President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Verla Depeiza urged Thursday.
According to Depeiza, during the emergency meeting on Wednesday to ease the impact of the rise in fares from $2.00 to $3.50, Mottley effectively called Ministers Dr William Duguid and Peter Phillips failures.
“Neither of them were called upon to speak, suggesting that they are not fit for requirement and therefore are not justifying their salaries and should go.
“Their Prime Minister has effectively called them failures when she said that there was no excuse for not communicating with the public and not having proper amenities,” she said.
Depeiza further argued that the lack of confidence in the transport ministers was also demonstrated by the fact that People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Minister Cynthia Forde and Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology Senator Kay McConney were tasked with visiting the bus terminals at the height of public discontent over the fare hike, earlier this week.
In addition to her calls for the sacking of Duguid and Phillips, Depeiza rushed to the defence of her party’s handling of the Transport Board for the last ten years. She argued that the entity was showing significant decline long before the DLP formed the Government in 2008.
“If you look at the Transport Board’s 2008-2009 annual report, table 20, it showed significant decline in the tens of millions beginning from the year 2004. So, the Transport Board decline was not in the last ten years,” she said.
The DLP leader also charged that Government’s plan to incorporate the privately-owned PSVs into the Transport Board’s service, was essentially a revival of the DLP’s Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) project, which was halted when the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) took office last May.
“What she is proposing now is precisely the TASI system that we had, and they discarded when they got in. They threw out that baby with the bath water and now they have to scramble and pick it back up. The only difference is that under us the participating PSV owners were given a subsidy and they were given an option,” she said.
De Peiza added: “The mistake that is being made is that the Prime Minister’s advisory team has almost exclusively economists. So, what we are seeing is the results of charts and graphs without any contemplation of flesh and blood. So, you rub shoulders for all these years and still cannot connect with people.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mottley acknowledged that the current Transport Board could not be held accountable for the errors of the past government, including the fact that a bus had not been ordered in the last decade, but said there were some areas where they would be held accountable.
“But I can hold them accountable for the conditions of the terminals and I can hold them accountable for failing to communicate with the commuters, and I have made it absolutely clear this morning that Barbados cannot operate with that sense of callousness with respect to what conditions people have to wait in and what we are going to do to minimise their need to wait,” she said,