Thirty-five former Transport Board drivers will be moving forward as a united front after signing onto Government’s Transport Augmentation Program (TAP).
On Wednesday afternoon, 32 men joined a growing list of ex-drivers, who will be using their severance pay to purchase public service vehicles (PSVs), to join the program as members of the Independent Transport Operators of Barbados.
“We are planning to take this to higher heights and we have a name for us as a group…to see if we can get group insurance and other discounts that we might need,” said spokesperson for the newly-formed group, Hudeen Hinds.
While the drivers had not yet purchased PSVs, they signed off on the new contracts and will benefit from duty-free concessions. Minister of Transport and Works, Dr William Duguid said the drivers would be assigned based on the demands of the local transport system.
“These 32 former drivers of the Transport Board, will be joining the Transport Augmentation Program (TAP), and will be able to assist the Transport Board with allowing commuters to travel to and fro, to work, play and home and we are very happy to have them and today they are signing their letters to join that programme,” revealed Minister of Transport and Works, William Duguid.
“I am very pleased, because this is an opportunity to empower and enfranchise former drivers who are now becoming entrepreneurs and by extension have opportunities to become employers and I want to commit to them that we will work to ensure that this is a win-win situation for them.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Transport Authority, Ian Estwick expressed confidence the newly-appointed drivers would live up to the high standard expected of them.
In light of concerns about some current PSV operators short changing their riders, he said authorities would continue to closely monitor the new TAP drivers.
“One of the requirements is that the vehicle must be fitted with a GPS so that is not going to be an issue and it [drivers operating their full route] is a contractual arrangement, so in any case, the contract’s terms could come into effect,” he said.