Route taxi owners are hopping mad over Government’s recent decision to grant concessions to ZMs whose owners sign on to the Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP).
The move has left some ZR owners puzzled, as they have been calling for Government to grant them a similar concession for over eight years.
During her address at Solidarity House on May Day, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that ZMs taking part in the integration project would granted duty-free concessions towards a bus.
Efforts to reach chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) Morris Lee for comment proved unsuccessful up to press time.
However, public relations officer of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY that he was still waiting on Government to see if all public service vehicles (PSVs) would also be granted duty-free concessions.
“It is still on the table and we are waiting for Government to give us a definitive position on that matter,” Haynes said.
“We have it before them in writing and we are just waiting for a reply. It has always been our position that the entire transport sector deserves duty-free concessions to replace an aging fleet,” he added, while pointing out that PSV’s transported over 80 per cent of commuters on the island.
However, one irate owner told Barbados TODAY he was extremely disappointed by Government’s newest proposal.
He said what was especially hurtful was the fact that during negotiations with Government they were told they would only be granted duty-free if they were purchasing electric vehicles.
“It is upsetting that after struggling with old vehicles for all of these years and with a $2 bus fare that these new players are now being offered duty-free vehicles. It is an insult to owners who have been struggling for the past 12 to 15 years,” he said.
“When we sat down and met with Government they told us we would not be getting any duty-free on diesel vehicles and that it would only apply if we bought electric or CNG (natural gas) vehicles, knowing full well that we would not be able to afford either of those as they are very expensive.
“So to see these ZMs being told that they can buy a diesel vehicle duty-free if they sign on to the TAP is very hurtful,” the owner added.
He complained that sourcing new vehicles was critical for owners of ZRs and minibuses due to the wear and tear associated with PSVs.
Another owner told Barbados TODAY he was shocked when he heard the news and confused over why ZRs were continually being overlooked.
“We were the first group of persons who had conversations with Government as it related to helping them out with the TAP and at no time was it ever put on the table that we would be given duty-free diesel vehicles.
“But because very few of us have signed on to the project, a decision was taken to approach the ZMs and offer them duty-free concessions. That is completely unfair,” the owner contended.