Security systems are coming to protect operators of privately-owned public service vehicles, as fears mount within the sector of an increase in criminal activity against these workers.
Pointing to the recent attempted robbery and shooting of ZR driver Kelroy Alexander by a passenger along Inch Marlow, Christ Church, new chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), attorney-at-law Kenneth Kenny Best said a number of security options are being examined.
“We also now have to look at the question of where, with the increase in bus fears, where there is a greater temptation for criminal activity. Recently you would have seen a driver was shot; and then there are also instances where people get on the vans, don’t pay and attempt to rob [the operator]. So we have to look at some security systems for the workers,” Best told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
The new APTO chairman identified visual surveillance onboard the vehicles as one option.
However, the attorney and former parliamentarian explained that this system would have to be undertaken in collaboration with the Transport Authority and the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), so that if the information was used in a court of law, it would conform with the Evidence Act.
Best also cited several other methods which are aimed at discouraging potential assailants from thinking there is easy access to cash from drivers or conductors.
“Fare boxes are not far-fetched. There are also some ideas that are being suggested…[such as] a card system,” he said.
The spokesman for the privately-run public transport operators also contends that the Government would have to work with his organisation if such a system was being introduced.
“The fare box is fine, even though the Government has gone fare box, the public sector provides a considerable amount of employment both for drivers and conductors. If you go fare box you would be disadvantaging workers and more people would now go on the breadline. So we are looking at all the variables in that regard,” Best assured.
Generally, though, he told Barbados TODAY that his agenda is to help provide a “cleaner”, safer and more disciplined transport service for the travelling public.
“We want to provide a better system of transport for the travelling public, where the public feels comfortable and free. We want to eliminate the bad behavior…but we are going to tackle it by way of retraining and educational programmes. But I can’t do it by myself. I have to have meetings with the Ministry of Transport, the Chief Licensing Officer, the Transport Authority as well as the workers’ associations and the other organisation that represent owners,” Best stated.
Best insisted that all these plans can be achieved once done together and without confrontation.
“We have to put all our ideas together and see how best we can [go forward].”
Meanwhile, the APTO head supports the granting of more permits for public service vehicles, but with one condition.
“There is a need, but the route distribution must be equitable and not overcrowding our routes,” he suggested.
Asked if the unprofitable routes would therefore have to be serviced, Best did not think any route was unprofitable.
“Every route is profitable. Throughout Barbados, you have people who want to get to and from work and to do their business. If you develop a route and you market it properly, it becomes profitable,” the attorney argued.
Best said he was not in a position to speak to outstanding issues under the previous APTO board since he was yet to meet and have discussions.