Security cameras coming to bus terminals, says minister
The days of “lewd, nasty and crude” music on public service vehicles (PSVs) are numbered. Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said today that new legislation to deal specifically with PSVs was on the desk of the Attorney General, and should soon go before Parliament.
Lashley also disclosed that amid concerns about lack of security in and around the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal, especially at night, authorities were considering the installation of security cameras in the area.
The minister made the disclosures at the end of a tour of both the River and Fairchild Street Bus Terminal.
Legislation dealing with a uniform and dress code for all PSV workers is also to be laid in Parliament at the same time.
“I am now the Acting Attorney General, so I will make a check on that today to see the progress, and by the time the substantive Attorney General comes back to office, then I will be informed and I should have the legislation brought to Parliament as soon a possible. The regulations . . . speak to the playing of loud music, lewd, nasty and crude lyrics.
“When we lay those regulations in Parliament, then we have now . . . the law to enforce, to monitor what is happening out there,” he said. “We also plan to have transport authority officers who will be out there dealing with these matters, dealing with the ZR vans, dealing with the minibuses and even dealing with the Transport Board buses . . . . With cooperation from the police, those provisions will be enforced.”
The minister also told reporters he was “extremely happy” with the number of PSV operators who were complying with the uniform and dress code. He estimated that about 98 per cent of them turned out in uniforms this morning.
“With the cooperation from the Public Service Vehicle owners and drivers, we can now move on from strength to strength in terms of bringing discipline back to the public transportation system. We need regulation and those regulations are being worked on to be laid in Parliament to make it law,” Lashley said.
“What we have been using during this period is moral suasion to get the owners to get PSV conductors, and the drivers to recognize that there are out there in public and they have to make an impression. Perception counts. If you go out there in armholes, T-shirts, slippers, short pants, unkempt, then you are going to have the travelling public making some very derogatory statements about the drivers and it going to impact their sales and it is going to impact on their business.”
Lashley also told reporters that while it could be a costly exercise, there might be a need to install security cameras in the Fairchild Street Terminal as authorities do all in their power to ensure the safety of the travelling public.
“If it is cameras that we have to address . . . of course it is a cost, but safety comes first. There can be no dollar placed on the safety of passengers. We will try our best to ensure that we have the cameras in this area,” Lashley said. The minister also promised some relief to commuters who have to wait for long periods to get Transport Board buses to their various destinations.
“The fleet at Transport Board is a senior fleet. We had some issues with UCAL [United Commercial Autoworks Limited] . . . . Government owed UCAL some moneys, we have actually paid them some . . . . And I am also confident that the bus availability is back up. I have been informed that UCAL is back on the job and that buses are going out . . . ,” he said. “We also have a proposal to purchase new buses . . . which we have to put in place very shortly.”
After his tour of the terminals with officials from his ministry and the Transport Authority, Lashley acknowledged that the Fairchild Street Terminal was “under some stress”, and infrastructural improvements were on the cards.
“We have already had Town Planning approval, and the plans have gone out to tender for expression of interest, and hopefully by the end of this year construction should start, or you should see some progress in terms of building a new facility,” he said.
“In the interim though,” the minister added, “we also have to make [Fairchild] comfortable and make the conditions a lot more pleasing to the travelling public. So we will not sit back and say that we have a plan in place and wait months and months. We are going . . . to make sure that we have improvement to the conditions of the travelling public and also the workers in this area.”