The Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) are concerned by what they say is a worrying trend of violence against PSV operators.
And considering the recent attempted robbery and shooting of a ZR driver, the association is calling on Government to take steps to nip this activity in the bud.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, AOPT president Roy Raphael, charged that some members of the public seemed to be of the view that PSV operators were fair game for attacks.
“This is something that we will not be tolerating at all. We believe that PSV operators should be able to go about their business without being harassed or attacked in any way. I believe that the association will have to meet with the Ministry of Transport to deal with issues related to violence against PSV operators,” said Raphael.
According to the police report, 53-year-old ZR driver Kelroy Alexander made a routine stop to let off a passenger along Inch Marlow, Christ Church. Police said that passenger attempted to rob Alexander and shot the driver about his body. Alexander survived but had to undergo emergency surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Last week a ZR conductor, 26-year-old Darian Greaves of Union Hall, St Philip, was stabbed to death at the Cheapside Terminal. He was reportedly involved in an altercation when the stabbing occurred. He was transported to the QEH where he was later pronounced dead.
This morning, Raphael told Barbados TODAY that while the facts of these cases are yet to be revealed, it was worrying in light of a pattern of persons becoming more embolden in their aggression towards operators. He noted that the problem had gotten to the point where there is now an increase in passengers disembarking PSVs and refusing to pay the fare.
“It is becoming a concern for us generally as an association where we are seeing a number of people get into the PSV vehicles, our buses and our ZRs and they are not willing to pay, and this creates some serious tension. We have cases where persons only pay the old fare of two dollars and are refusing to pay the new fare of $3.50. People are just getting into the vehicles and when they get close to their destination, they just jump out,” Raphael explained.
The AOPT head also revealed that operators are also concerned about what he described as a state of chaos at the Cheapside terminal. He explained that since Government put in place control measures at the Constitution River bus terminal, much of the violence and problems that long plagued that terminal, are no more. He therefore called on Government to put similar controls at Cheapside, as a matter of urgency.
Raphael revealed that since the new River Terminal began operations last September, complaints about infractions committed by privately-owned public service vehicle operators plying routes from the terminal, have dropped by 90 per cent. Raphael revealed that from 2014, the annual tally of complaints coming to his organisation, consistently hit the 1000 mark.
However, in stark contrast, Raphael told Barbados TODAY that conduct at the less regulated Cheapside terminal has deteriorated terribly.
“The terminal at Cheapside is really becoming a serious problem. If you go there you would see less than 50 per cent of the persons wearing uniforms and there is chaos there. We are calling on the Transport Authority to do something about the Cheapside terminal as a matter of urgency. It is creating loads of problems for the commuters as well as the operators there,” said Raphael, who revealed that even the demarcations for lane assignments have disappeared, creating a free-for-all scenario.
He further explained, “I would have already raised this issue with the chairman of the Transport Authority, Ian Estwick. Recently I went into the terminal and I saw first-hand what our survey shows. I also saw some younger persons coming into the terminal and creating some problems. I believe that the Transport Authority and law enforcement must move quickly to put some measures in place down there.”