By Emmanuel Joseph & Shamar Blunt
On the day that a surprise work stoppage by Transport Board employees crippled transportation in the country, the leading public service vehicle (PSV) organisation has hinted at possible industrial action over an outstanding issue with the Government.
Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael sounded a warning to the Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources Santia Bradshaw on Monday that she should take a cue from the strike by the state-owned Transport Board workers and meet with the AOPT soon to address the body’s concerns.
Raphael said the main issue which has been on the table before the previous transport minister Ian Gooding-Edghill took up the portfolio of Health and Wellness, related to the fact that PSV operators continue to be prevented from picking up passengers on Fairchild Street after the Constitution River Bus Terminal from which they operate, is closed at 6 p.m.
“We have some issues which we will be addressing sometime next week. We have already spoken to the minister about it. We urged her that we want to meet to resolve the issue. The meeting has not been forthcoming, so we are contemplating our next move,” Raphael said in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
“We will alert the public on that as soon as we have met with our stakeholders which include the other organisation, the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO). But we are still waiting and time is really running out on our decision going forward. In the wake of this strike [Transport Board’s], we appeal to the minister again to meet with us…we move 80 per cent of the public…and learn a lesson from what is happening today,” he cautioned.
Earlier on Monday, Raphael assured commuters that the privately-owned mini-buses and route taxis were not on strike at this stage and are still providing service to the travelling public.
“We are still providing service for our commuters, particularly in the north, south, and east. What we will do during the course of the day is assess the situation. So far we are seeing that a number of the bus stops have a number of people. We move 80 per cent of the travelling public so the only effect the strike may have on the public is the impact on school children and senior citizens,” he pointed out.
“We ply all the routes in Barbados except some routes such as the City Circle. Our service is also very limited on the ABC Highway and the Southern Circle. Other than that, our service continues,” the spokesman for the PSV sector explained.
AOPT’s director of communications and public affairs Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY in a separate interview that though the PSVs were initially caught by surprise, no pressing issues were reported from any of the operators on Monday.
“From my standpoint, our remit is to ensure that the commuters are taken safely, that the workers do not conduct themselves recklessly or do not do anything that is inappropriate given the fact that the Transport Board now finds itself with a dispute,” he said. [email protected] & [email protected]