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AWRIGHT DEN: We’re not serious

COREY WORRELL, [email protected]

AWRIGHT DEN: We’re not serious

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LET ME GET straight to it. This PSV issue is a joke. Over 20 years and our leaders are unable or unwilling to resolve these simple issues. Minister after minister, government after government and it’s the same result. No wonder these operators don’t take authority seriously.

Despite all the talk and threats, they still block up the road, go off route, overload, play loud music, don’t wear correct uniform, and the list goes on. While writing this article, my wife came through the door and said, “Corey, that Speightstown bus I was just on, I never ever catching it again. Not only was he driving too fast but the music was very loud and extremely vulgar and there were many children on the bus.” All PSV operators are not lawless but there are too many bad apples giving the industry a bad name.

Last week I stood at a bus stop in Warrens awaiting a bus. Within a period of 20 minutes, 4 minibuses and 3 ZRs stopped to allow passengers to embark and disembark and not one conductor was displaying a badge, was dressed in the correct uniform or wore the stipulated shoes.

On Monday, February 1, an article titled Cops called to stop lawless ZR drivers, was published in the DAILY NATION. It read, “Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley has called for the Royal Barbados Police Force to step up action against rowdy ZR drivers”. He was quoted as saying, “We’re probably going to have to work closer with members of the Royal Barbados Police Force to ensure that there is adherence to the road traffic rules and that there is some level of respect.”

Minister Lashley was addressing ZM taxi operators and drivers at the culmination of a Passenger Transport Service Operators training course, where 47 people were awarded certificates, having completed courses in defensive driving, effective communication on the streets and other areas. He went on to encourage owners of minibuses and ZR vans to ensure their employees completed an “in-class course as part of the terms and conditions of their employment”.

We continue to tackle this situation the same way and expect to get different results. We complain about the operators’ negative and lawless behaviour and the need to enforce the law to minimise it. Let’s start at the foundation of the problem; the standards to be qualified as a PSV driver or conductor. Make the ZR and minibus industry more professional by starting with requirements to be an operator; that would keep some away. When you see a job vacancy in the newspaper, the first thing you look for are the requirements. If you don’t have them, you don’t apply. Simple. The same would apply for the PSV sector.

The minibus and ZR sector, in my opinion, isn’t seen as a professional one and isn’t treated as such and that’s one of the reasons why these problems persist. The comments of Minister Lashley do lend support to this. Here we see the ZM community receiving training and certificates but the owners of minibuses and ZR vans being encouraged to complete a course.

On November 27, 2014, I wrote an article titled Dear Mr Speaker in which I addressed this issue in greater detail and gave some suggestions. It can be found on the NATION’s website and I encourage you to take a read.

On too many occasions, I have seen ZR and minibus drivers pull up outside a shop, the conductors jump out, run inside and come back out with bottles of Guinness, Heineken or Banks Beer for him and the driver to enjoy. I have also witnessed Transport Board drivers completing their route, park their busses and go in a shop for drinks. It is evident that some of our PSV drivers see nothing wrong with this action as they continue to drive these vehicles under the influence of alcohol with our children and family on board. I know some people can hold their liquor well but alcohol has the ability to impair one’s judgment.

Finally, it should be mandatory for operators of public transportation, ZR vans, minibuses and Transport Board buses to not only clean the outside of their vehicles but clean and disinfect the inside also. The seats and side panels are filled with dust and dirt, the floors are dusty and dirty and some widows covered in hair grease. I encourage the public to walk with hand sanitiser for their own safety.

Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email [email protected]