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Cut costs – privatise public transport


DERECK FOSTER

Cut costs – privatise public transport

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DURING 2016, THERE have been frequent references in the press to the continuing deterioration in Barbados’ financial position.

Many commentators have referred to and continue to highlight the country’s horrendous debt, some pointing out that we are now the third most indebted country on the planet. The fact is that our Government is racking up debt at an alarming rate, all of which we the citizens will have to repay, as Government itself does not generate income but taxes us the people to get its income.

Today I would like to focus on one entity whose losses we can stop, if we have the will – the Transport Board.

The following are the Transport Board’s operating losses as shown on the internet:

2002/2003   $20 million  2003/2004  $24 million  2004/2005 $31 million

2005/2006   $36 million  2006/2007  $41 million  2007/2008 $48 million

2008/ 2009  $59 million.

The total of the operating losses for the seven years shown above is a staggering $259 million!

Since the Government is unwilling or unable to publish the accounts for the last six years, and based on their terrible track record for managing cost, we can easily assume that the losses have increased. As mentioned above, the Government itself does not generate income, and this means the taxpayers of Barbados are paying this incredible expense.

While the Government has been racking up losses, from all appearances the private operators seem quite capable of making a profit while charging the same fare.  In view of this, surely it is time for the transfer of public transport to private enterprise.

In the last month in particular, a great many people, both adults and children, have waited for hours to catch buses. Some of them were interviewed and said that what was needed was new management. The privatisation of the transport system could well be the solution.

The Transport Board’s history indicates an inability to ensure that a sufficient fleet of buses is maintained. It has stated very recently that it has far fewer buses on the road than can cope with the demand. I am sure there are companies in Barbados that would be more than willing and able to supply reliable public transport, as is the case in many countries around the world.

While privatising the Transport Board will bring about challenges, I am confident they can be easily overcome and stop the massive waste of our money in the provision of a service that can be managed by private operators. 

Imagine the kind of hospital that could have been built with the amount being wasted on the Transport Board. Oh, and by the way, there are many more hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars being wasted on other statutory corporations, which can be easily privatised.

It is time that we, the taxpayers, say enough is enough and tell our government to stop the madness and start bringing its costs under control.

– DERECK FOSTER

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