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AWRIGHT DEN: Dear Mr Speaker

Corey Worrell

AWRIGHT DEN: Dear Mr Speaker

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I rise today in this honourable parliament first of all to express my gratitude to all honourable members for agreeing to allow me, an ordinary citizen, to share my concerns and recommendations in regards to transport and works in Barbados and secondly to ask that they have an open mind as I share my concerns and recommendations and, where possible, be objective in their deliberations on my contribution.

Due to a time restriction, I will not be able to share all 25 of my concerns and recommendations. However, if given the opportunity to return next week, I will continue from where I end today.

1. Public service vehicles (PSV) – ZRs and minibuses

I am 32 years of age and from the time I was in primary school, I remember hearing about the challenges the state had with the PSV community. I am unable to comprehend how some 25 odd years later; we have not brought discipline and order to this situation.

I am asking that a comprehensive investigation be done to ascertain whether most PSV drivers and/or conductors – with special focus on the ZR community, who seem to be the head culprits for breaking the law – share similar past experiences while at school.

Those experiences are that they themselves had serious challenges with respecting and abiding by the school rules and may not have completed all five years, six where applicable, due to those challenges.

If this is indeed true, it supports my belief that there is a greater problem that needs to be addressed. Due to the level of responsibility giving to PSV drivers in transporting the public, inclusive of children, I make these recommendations:

a) The minimum age to be eligible to drive a PSV should be 21 and the applicant should have a minimum of two years driving experience and must present a police certificate of character.

b) All PSV operators must obtain a PSV certificate of professional competence having completed a six-week series of training workshops on effective communication, customer service and care, deportment and hygiene, leadership and road safety and regulations. Completion of this training would make them eligible to apply for a professional driver’s licence (PDL).

c) Any PSV operator in breach of the law and regulations on two occasions will have their licence temporarily revoked and would have to re-sit the PSV certificate. If in breach on two occasions after this, they would lose their licence for one year. At the end of that year, they will face a disciplinary committee from the Licensing Authority who would determine if they are eligible to be a PSV driver again.

Mr Speaker, the PSV community has served this nation over the years by providing transportation for the public to and from work and other activities of interest. The establishment of laws and regulations is important to maintaining order on our roads but equally important, is the ability to consistently enforce such laws, which not only maintain order, but aid in the development of a law-abiding society.

Regulators and those in leadership have failed miserably in the area of enforcement and should be held accountable for this. In addition, it is alleged that the sector may be compromised by some who share equal interest and responsibility as a leader/regulator and as an owner.

It is indeed disheartening that only a few months ago, the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works implemented a dress code which only some PSV operators have supported and respected; mainly those who drive minibuses and those who appear to be over the age of 40.

We are failing our country and doing our young generation a disservice if we continue to ignore the fact that we have not adequately regulated the PSV sector.

Unfortunately, my time is up and I was only able to comment on one concern. Nonetheless, I do hope the honourable members allow me the opportunity to return and continue next week. In the meantime, I do hope the members of parliament fairly analyse and objectively discuss my recommendations and where applicable, see how they can be implemented.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Email [email protected]