There has been an increase in complaints against public service vehicle (PSV) operators so far this year and the situation has owners “very worried”.
Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael said on Friday that the complaints had moved from around 15 in May last year to about 22 this month, and he suggested that the Ministry of Transport set up an independent commission to manage the behaviour of PSVs on the roads.
Raphael, whose organisation represents all PSVs, including taxis, said the bulk of the complaints were against route taxis (ZRs) and minibuses.
They include pirating, vehicles being off route, PSV employees not wearing uniforms, not going into the terminal to sanitise their vehicles, and drinking and driving.
“Ones that we have that are more disturbing are on the Speightstown route where a number of people called to complain about the guys ‘dragging’ on that route. We also had complaints from schools and other authorities that some vehicles come into the compound, particularly the Roman Catholic School compound at Jemmotts Lane. We have had complaints from residents of the guys speeding through the Rockley area, some conductors and drivers not wearing their masks,” the PSV owners’ spokesman disclosed.
He said his organisation has also been getting several complaints about some operators who function under the state-run Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP) plying a route other than what was allocated.
Raphael said owners were “between a rock and a hard place” as far as terminating the services of delinquent operators was concerned.
He explained that it had become “very difficult” to find persons willing to work in the sector, and owners were therefore stuck with retaining existing employees.
“It is a very worrisome position for us because the association does not have any authority like the Bar Association to discipline anyone. We could basically use moral suasion and we could also get our investigators to investigate cases and report them to the relevant authority,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Raphael suggested that Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources Santia Bradshaw set up an independent commission to manage and control how operators behave on the roads.
“The commission should comprise the Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry, the Transport Board, the Transport Authority, the Licensing Authority, the two PSV associations, and a member of the public,” he said.
“This commission will hear cases and be able to recommend to the Ministry of Transport or the Transport Authority if permits need to be [withdrawn] or whatever steps should be taken regarding indiscipline or other breaches of the road traffic law. The commission, which will operate like a court, could be chaired by a retired magistrate,” the AOPT chairman added.
Raphael said his body will be writing Minister Bradshaw by the beginning of next month on their suggestion.
When contacted, Director of the Transport Authority Ruth Holder said her agency already has the remit to hear cases or complaints related to all public service vehicles, except the Transport Board which has its own legislation to govern that entity.