EDITORIAL: Don’t give in to loutish behaviour
THE LAST THING we would want to do is appear to be suggesting to the state that it should take action that would deprive any sector of a legitimate opportunity to earn a living.
Our private transport operators provide a vital national service each week, in the process assisting the economy and supporting thousands of poor Barbadians who would otherwise have very few options in moving around the country.
But at some point we all must grow some hair on our chests, metaphorically of course, and stop this growing practice of mollycoddling lawbreakers and encouraging stupidity in the name of facilitating this ubiquitous “poor black man” that has been the bane of our existence for decades now.
Our minibus and route taxi operators have been complaining for years that they are suffering because they can’t travel on Baxters Road on their outbound journey from The City, and they are blue vex that authorities will not allow them to both pick up and set down passengers on Tudor Street.
Quite frankly, our position is that those in charge of the Transport Authority and Minister of Transport Michael Lashley should not even entertain discussion with the operators on these issues. Whatever the reason for the initial restrictions in this area, there is absolutely no doubt that long before the imposition, and every day since then, these operators have shown absolutely no regard for the law.
Some of them are so brazen that they even turn around in the driveway of Central Police Station to head out of town via Baxters Road once they see more than a handful of passengers at bus stops along this stretch. And they have no apprehension about intimidating other motorists who might be in the way of their bold determination to act contrary to the law.
On the matter of picking up passengers along Tudor Street, this is a major headache for every motorist. If these operators wanted public support for their call, they certainly would not force everyone to wait sometimes ten to 15 minutes while they crawl along looking into every alley and store for potential passengers.
And they carry the same practice along Milk Market, Lower Broad Street and beyond, all streets on which they are prohibited from collecting passengers. They treat every junction as a bus stop – at times stopping so long as to cause major congestion.
We declare to Minister Lashley: do not accommodate them until they can demonstrate they are worthy of consideration! Right now they are not. We accept that not all operators flout the law in this way, but if casual observation is worth anything, more of them do than do not.
On top of that, they are not discreet or apologetic about the way they do things because even while they are in the wrong, and know it, if a frustrated motorist should dare to reprimand one of them, their response is invariably a barrage of expletives, laced with threats of physical harm.
These are not people seeking concession or consideration; these are louts and vagabonds demanding facilitation of their belief that they have a right to operate as they like, when they like and with no regard to the inconvenience or safety of others, or what the law says.
We have owners who complain repeatedly on radio that the police are targeting drivers who do the “human thing” and pick up or set down little old ladies near their homes.
If that were the case, we would support them, but when you drive behind a bus that crawls along at a speed too low to register on the speedometer and stops for passengers three or four times between bus stops, including impeding traffic, while waiting at junctions for individuals who are 200 metres down some gap, they deserve to be reported every time.
When you demand respect and concessions, you should be willing to demonstrate you deserve them. Any owner who will argue publicly that these drivers and conductors don’t draw attention to themselves is suffering a serious case of denial. It is then left to the state to bring them back to reality.