Public service vehicle (PSV) operators are up in arms again over what they consider to be unnecessary actions being taken against them by police officers.
More than two years after they complained that lawmen were reporting them for working from Fairchild Street even though the Constitutional River Terminal (CRT) was closed, PSV workers say the same thing is happening again, this time behind the Bridge Street Mall.
However, Director of the Transport Authority, Ruth Holder told Barbados TODAY that although the CRT remains open until 8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, PSV operators still insist on leaving the terminal to pick up passengers before it closes.
Both the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) and the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) are calling for something to be done to address the situation.
Back in 2019, following a similar occurrence, a temporary bus stop was erected on Fairchild Street where PSVs could load and offload passengers.
However, that bus stop has since been removed, leaving PSV operators with nowhere to dock after hours.
AOPT’s communications, information and marketing officer Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY there was a need to “go back to the drawing board” and he called for a meeting with the relevant authorities.
“We have dealt with this matter before and we think it is something that we have to go back to the drawing board on or further push Government to move with alacrity and look at the situation so that the workers will not be disadvantaged,” Haynes said.
Meanwhile, chairman of APTO Kenny Best explained that he had already put forward a proposal to solve the problem.
He said because commuters did not like going into the CRT at night because they felt unsafe walking the dark area leading to the terminal, he had suggested that a bridge be built from the area of River Road leading directly into the CRT.
“I am advocating for the Government to put a bridge that will come from over by NASSCO into the CRT, allow the CRT to open later at night to give the people who are afraid to walk through the shanty town another path, because they wouldn’t have to be over there. That is the solution to the issue,” Best said.
But Holder insisted that the PSV operators were leaving the CRT to operate illegally by choice.
“I joined the Transport Authority in 2020 and at that point in time, the CRT used to close at 11. However, after 6 p.m. we hardly had any usage of the terminal so we made a decision to close the terminal at 8 p.m. It still closes at 8 p.m. and the only day it closes at 6 p.m. is on Sunday and holidays.
“But what you do see happening is that you have a lot of PSVs plying from Fairchild Street some evenings from as early as 5 p.m. The terminal is still open at that time but what they will do is go down there and say that the terminal is closed, but it is open until 8 p.m.,” Holder pointed out.
She said while she could not speak to commuters’ complaints of feeling unsafe while walking to the terminal, she said once the PSVs continued to move behind Bridge Street Mall there was no reason for people to walk to the terminal in any case.
Police public relations officer, Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss told Barbados TODAY that officers could not be blamed for doing their job.
He said it was their job to maintain order and uphold the law.
Inniss said if PSV workers wanted to operate at another location they had to lobby the Transport Authority and the Ministry of Transport and Works.
“Police are employed to enforce the law and if they [PSV operators] don’t have systems to suit them that has to be raised with the Transport Authority and the MTW and those other entities, but you can’t really put the blame on the police officers who are doing law enforcement,” Inniss contended.