by Marlon Madden
As Barbados continues to grapple with rising numbers in local COVID-19 cases, one public transportation sector official is calling for support in the training of taxi, ZR and minibus operators in protocols to help protect them from the infectious virus.
In fact, with one individual who later turned out to be positive having travelled on a taxi to the airport, Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transportation (AOPT) Roy Raphael told Barbados TODAY the time had come for more stringent measures to be put in place for those travelling on public transportation.
“We heard of a case where people stop a taxi and go to the airport and one of them turned out to be COVID-19 positive,” said Raphael, in an apparent reference to a recent incident involving UK national Love Island star Zara Holland and her boyfriend, who reportedly tried to flee the island last week.
“It is a very scary thing for us right now,” he said.
Raphael, whose organisation represents a number of city taxi operators, said he was urging them to encourage their passengers to wear their masks while in their vehicles and to sanitize their hands.
“We want special training so that people know that when people get into their taxi, they must be masked up, they have to have their hands sanitized, and if possible, temperature guns must be in place to test these people as they come in.
“I would also like to extend it to the ZRs and minibuses as well. It is a costly operation, but we are encouraging our members to do these things,” said Raphael.
He said while it should be noted that hundreds of taxi operators on the island recently benefited from training workshops hosted by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and the Ministry of Health,
not all of them were able to.
Raphael said in light of the recent spike in cases locally, which authorities have linked to a Boxing Day bus crawl, he wanted taxi, ZR and minibus drivers to be more vigilant.
In addition, he is calling on corporate Barbados to assist operators in the industry in obtaining temperature guns so they could do temperature checks of passengers.
“Due to the bus crawl and what is happening right now in terms of the increase in the number of cases, we are urging all members to be more vigilant at this stage.
“Do not take a six for a nine, always make sure that persons who are entering the buses have their hands sanitised, make sure persons have their masks on, and wherever possible, we encourage operators to buy temperature guns,” said Raphael.
“I want to make a public appeal to companies to offer us some temperature guns so that we can do random checks as people enter our buses across the board.
“We will be talking with the COVID-19 team to see if they can train persons that can go on these routes and do random checks to make sure persons are complying and their temperature is within the accepted range,” he said.