EDITORIAL: Fixing bad behaviour on the roads by PSV drivers
MORE than a month after the Barbados Transport Authority issued certain guidelines to the operators of route taxis and other public service vehicles to clean up their act, this newspaper has found no evidence that suggests those operators have mended their ways. It would be wrong to indicate that they have gotten worse, but whether that is so is left for another day as more observations about their practices are made, fully scrutinized and assessed. What can be said, and quite emphatically so, is that the sector remains in the grip of bad behavior and everything that has gone wrong; in other words, the proverbial tiger remains on the loose and this is sad where Barbados is concerned.
In an attempt to deal with this bad behavior, the Authority’s Chairman Ian Estwick, at a meeting with the operators at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre early last month, called on them to curb their bad behavior and lawlessness on the road. Mr. Estwick was not speaking willy nilly, but rather from a position of strength since the Transport Authority has a wealth of information on the things that are taking place in that segment of the sector. He pinpointed a number of things that the operators continue to do. He said that no longer can one turn a blind eye to the playing of loud and filthy music on those vehicles; the blaring of horns; impeding the smooth flow of traffic on some roads; stopping in the middle of the road to pick up or let down passengers, or to prevent another PSV from overtaking (the one that is stationary); speeding; obstructing other road users, talking on cell phones and going off route. Many of them are still not wearing the uniforms approved by the Road Traffic Act and the Road Traffic Amendment regulations. They continue to do so while promising to get tough with the operators.
Still, what has happened since Mr. Estwick’s address to the sector? Nothing has changed. In fact, it continues to be business as usual for the PSVs. Whether they are plying the Wanstead, Silver Hill, Silver Sands, Pine, Fordes Road, or wherever, the story is the same: they are still doing as they like without fear of anyone and seemingly challenging those in authority to do something about their bad behaviour, which is evident outside the University of the West Indies and along Black Rock main road, for instance. The situation has reached the stage where some plying the south coast are seen travelling through the Super Centre car park in Oistins to get away from traffic congestion in that area. What is very annoying is that we are dealing with operators who are adults, which as a rule should indicate that they be should be setting examples to the younger minds, many of whom they transport on a daily basis.
Mr. Estwick spoke about beefed up security at the new terminal, a better screening of those operating the vehicles, stiffer penalties for violating the traffic rules and bringing insurance companies on board to see where they can be of some help. Barbados won’t be able to lick this problem by using kid’s gloves. Barbados has to deal with this problem and those looking after the public where these ZRs continue to be a menace.