Operators and owners of mini buses, ZRs and taxis are upset that they were not part of the decision-making process to shut down the country prior to the passage of Tropical Storm (TS) Dorian.
The two entities which represent the owners and workers of the public service vehicles (PSVs) are calling on the Mia Mottley Administration to involve them at the table in future discussions since they move thousands of people every day.
In fact, outspoken chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael is asking the Government to revisit its national shutdown policy as it affects the private transport sector.
“We were getting a lot of mixed information. One minute we hearing the shutdown was 11 o’clock, then we hear it was 12 o’clock, because it was not directly from the source…and it created some issues for us…and that is why we sent out an advisory to the public that the public transport would be off the road by 11 o’clock and not 12 as we had previously indicated,” Raphael told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
“As a representative of the PSV association I am calling on Government to revisit, especially as it relates to the shutdown policy, the public transportation system, to ensure that we as PSV representatives are included at the table…not second-hand information. It is creating some issues for us generally,” said the AOPT leader, whose organisation also represents taxi operators.
He argued that when information is not issued through the correct channel, some people receive it quite late.
Raphael also recalled that a transport committee which dealt with emergency shutdowns had been established by the former Government and when it met leading up to the impending arrival of the last hurricane, the PSV association was left out.
“ And again, I was one of the people who went on record as saying that decisions may be taken even with the Transport Authority present. The Transport Authority owns the permits, but the vans belong to us.” We have a representative of two bodies, the Alliance Owners of Public Transport and APTO [Association of Public Transport Operators], we believe that information should filter through, “ he said.
Raphael admitted that he received a call from the chairman of the Transport Authority about the shutdown, but is insisting that such an approach was unacceptable.
“I am hoping going forward, if a committee is not set up, I am asking that one be set up. We were told one was set up by the Ministry of Transport before where it involved all stakeholders of public transportation, [but] we were not invited to the last meeting. We were told the Transport Board and the Transport Authority were involved. It is wrong,” he declared.
Raphael also told Barbados TODAY that the day before TS Dorian was expected to impact Barbados, a number of the taxi drivers represented by his organization were uncertain about whether to accept business from passengers who called or take commuters to the airport due to the mixed signals being received about the shutdown time.
“There were some taxi operators who were concerned too about the shutdown policy…if they should be on the road, if somebody called them if they should go to the airport with them. These are things that we are not clear about; and I am asking that we be involved in the policy at the table,” emphasized the spokesman for PSV owners.
His counterpart in the organization that represents the workers also agrees that all stakeholders involved in public transport should have a direct say in the shutdown process.
“All stakeholders should be involved, so that you have an idea of what is happening, instead of making a decision and then calling and asking if your association is willing to assist. I believe that all stakeholders should attend the meetings so they can make their input so that everything would run smoothly,” chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators Kenneth Kenny Best has told Barbados TODAY.