Already facing a dramatic reduction in ridership, some privately-owned public service vehicle (PSV) operators are now complaining that they are being “stopped” by law enforcement officials as they start their shift or try to make their way home.
This complaint has come from Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael, who said he was asking authorities to exercise some discretion as the PSV operators try to stay within the curfew hours.
At the same time, Raphael said he was appealing with PSV operators over a certain age to stay off the roads this weekend as the country enters a full lockdown, beginning tonight and ending Monday morning.
“We are asking our members to stay home this weekend and relax and reflect – both PSV and taxi operators who are over 50-years-old. Our bus operators are reminded to start work at 6:30 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m. and if possible wear uniforms, have badges displayed at all times, wear masks and follow all Government COVID-19 directives,” said Raphael.
He explained that some of AOPT members have been complaining that as they make their way from their homes around 6 a.m. to get to Bridgetown or other depots across the island in order to get frontline workers to work on time, they were being stopped by police who say they were operating outside the hours allowed.
No one is allowed to leave home this weekend except for frontline workers and very few other exemptions as the island remains under a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew until February 28.
Raphael explained that some frontline workers in various sections of the island required transportation as early as 6:30 a.m. if they were to get to work on time. He said it was for this reason that some of the PSV operators had to leave home around 6 a.m. in order to be on location in time.
“I don’t think we should be treated any different from the Transport Board or the TAP men . . . We are not driving a truck or ice cream van, so I don’t understand why a police officer wants to pull over a vehicle that is providing public transport at 6 o’clock,” Raphael complained.
“I think the police will have to use their discretion. I would want to encourage our members to stick between the allowed times,” he said.
Raphael said he also wanted to make a public appeal to operators who have not yet applied for government assistance to do so by contacting the association.
“We have already filed for a number of them,” he said, adding that he was also urging members who have not yet done so, to contact the association if they required the vaccine. (MM)