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More power for transport inspectors

Declaring that enforcement of laws was key to stamping out lawlessness among public service vehicle (PSV) operators, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley this afternoon announced proposals to put the powers of prosecution into the hands of transport inspectors.

During a tour of the River van stand that included a stop at the adjoining old Queen’s College building, which is to be transformed into an ultra-modern PSV terminal complex, Lashley told reporters there were also problems getting members of the public to report breaches they had witnessed.

Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley

Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley

“The issue is enforcement and I am saying that if there is an issue with the police doing it, we have to mirror our legislation similar to the Jamaica legislation, where the transport inspectors would have similar powers and have powers that they can initiate prosecution. That is how we have to do it,” he added.

Lashley noted that right now under the legislation, inspectors who saw an infringement of traffic laws, could only document the offence but had to refer the matter to the police.

“It can only be enforced if we supplement the police officers with traffic inspectors and give them the power,” he said.

“The traffic inspectors that we have now, all they do is report and pass it onto the police. The traffic inspectors come in here [van stand], find a fault, report it to the police. They have to go to the police, the police have to prepare a statement, the police have to then come . . .,” explained Lashley.

He insisted that traffic inspectors should therefore be given the power to do the job.

The Minister of Transport and Works also questioned whether there was a backlog of traffic cases in need of speedy disposal.

“The other issue that we may have to face is that whether there is a backlog of cases relative to traffic cases. Yes, there is a traffic court there but since this is a national issue, we might have to reach a stage where we look at another magistrate or another judicial officer to sit in another court so that we can crack some of these matters and have them accessed to the benefit of the person accused and of the litigant,” said Lashley.

His comments came on the heels of Tuesday’s tragic accident in which a ZR overturned on its approach to the River terminal, causing a schoolgirl to lose her left arm and injuring 20 other passengers.

The scene at Nursery Drive following this afternoon’s accident.

The scene at Nursery Drive following Tuesday’s accident.

Lashley denied claims by that authorities were unable or unwilling to enforce the law fully against certain vehicles because their permits were owned by Transport Authority officials and Government ministers.

“Not me. Not this fellow here. So I don’t go into those rumours. I don’t pry behind people . . . .I don’t get involved in those things. I am saying, I am not in fuh dat. I don’t know of anybody who sits on the Transport Authority. I don’t know of any ministers either. I don’t know of any that have been drawn to my attention,” Lashley contended.

He noted that such rumours and “spurious” allegations defeated the whole purpose of seeking to eliminate lawlessness and reckless driving on the roads of Barbados. “The issue here is really regulating these people [PSV operators].”

Lashley said he had research covering the 1980s to the 2000s where all these issues had been recorded, “but it just remained there in the book”.

Defending his administration’s delay in introducing the amended Road Traffic Bill, Lashley said it was now ready to be signed off on by his ministry.  He said the bill, which had to compete with several other pieces of draft legislation of equal importance, would outlaw the playing of music on public service vehicles through any device.

The Minister of Transport also told reporters he was considering introducing stricter measures relating to permits. He said he was thinking of legislation which would stipulate a specific period, possibly three to five years, within which PSV permits could be transferred.   

He explained that the proposed law would be based on the existing Tenantry Freehold Purchase Act, which prohibits a person from buying a plot of land at $5 per square foot and then selling it days or weeks afterwards.

Lashley contended that right now, a person could obtain a permit and transfer it at any time.  He said the objective of changing this, was to cut out profiteering and try to eliminate people who do not have a genuine interest in the development of the public transport sector.

Another measure being contemplated in addressing delinquency on the roads by ZRs and minibuses was a review of how workers were paid. The minister said while he could not pry into the rights of owners and dictate to them how to pay their drivers, he would examine the legal implications of doing something about it.

He acknowledged that the present method of owners requiring a quota from drivers each day and then allowing them to take what was left, was a major contributor to the hassle that resulted in breaches of the law.

Lashley also warned drivers and conductors that if they injured someone, not only could  a criminal action be brought against them, but also a civil one for damages.

“For damages, for pain, suffering, loss of a limb, that is their right. They have not only opened up themselves to criminal sanctions, but to civil action for substantial damages in the High Court,” emphasized Lashley, who is an attorney-at-law.

4 Responses to More power for transport inspectors

  1. Sue Donym June 13, 2015 at 9:04 am

    One hopes that the enquiries into profiteering would examine allegations that Ministry personnel and staff of permit issuing agencies have themselves benefited from profiteering.

    That aside, are we serious about business development and personal empowerment when you severely limit the ability for entry to and exit from the sector? We’ve got to be prepared to look at cases individually, especially the screening of entrants.

    However if a person or entity wants to exit, because of health for example, in the case of an individual or a restructuring or refocusing – in the case of a firm – why make it difficult to transfer as a viable business? The Transport Authority would still have the final say on approval of the new entrant, but red tape could be eliminated by cutting out the need to apply for an entirely new

    Market forces will always have an effect on the attractiveness of various businesses, but are there similar concerns of profiteering when say, one communications company merges with another? Is the main focus the value of assets or service delivery? Or is it a case of different strokes for different folks?

    I get it that one is dealing with the transport of people (safety/reliability concerns) but remember the Transport Authority retains the approval of the new operator. Also, much as in the way stocks are traded and there is no fallout, why is the thought of an
    operator making a windfall from ‘selling high’ so distasteful?

  2. RAWLE MAYCOCK June 13, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Mr.minister, who told you that the inspectors wouldn’t do the same.

  3. Patrick Blackman June 13, 2015 at 10:27 am

    What we have here in Barbados now is “CREEPING PRIVATIZATION”, a complete assault on key social, economic and infrastructural assets of this country. This type of policy is largely followed by the IMF, IADB and World Bank in developing countries or targeted economies. Even though we are not under an IMF/World bank program, we are following their play book, and at the end of the day, all key components that define Barbados, will be under the management of private entities both external and local.

    It is quite clear that the government has NO INTEREST IN REVITALIZING the Transport Board; it has realized that the board is a money sink hole not by the board’s bad management but by a TACTICAL ASSAULT initiated by key elements within our society pushing an agenda of privatized public transit in Barbados.

    We have seen the SYSTEMATIC STRIPPING of crucial lucrative routes from the board without due consideration of the impact this would have on the economic viability of the board. This was not by accident, it was by design, a wholesale transfer of revenue to the private entities and no one said anything because they allowed the level of service by the board to deteriorate to such an extent, the population just cared about getting from point A to B; hence the PSVs became a more reliable choice.

    We have had the opposition leader sometime last year calling for the privatization of the Transport Board. We now have the Minister disclosing information on the construction of PERMANENT TERMINAL TO FACILITATE A PRIVATE INDUSTRY GROUP WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS which enhances that group’s competitive edge over a state run entity, under the guise of enhancing public safety. I guess “Why let a tragedy go to waste when I get some political mileage from it (in his delusional mind)” and appear as if the government is taking positive steps to clean up this state of affairs.

    Mr. Minister, if you are a man, a really man, you will come to the people of Barbados and clearly articulate the government’s transit policy, open it to public debate, provide a complete review of the current state of the transit industry in this country and let the chips fall where they fall.


  4. Sue Donym June 13, 2015 at 11:01 am

    @ Patrick Blackman. Privatization is not a bad word when the public wins through improved efficiency and net contribution to the economy results.

    The situation of the terminals comes down to perception. Terminals are built for passengers and to facilitate the mass transit process. The Transport Board passengers are no more entitled to appropriate facilities than those travelling on privately owned PSVs. Truth is those private PSVs pay taxes that contribute to terminal maintenance. Transport Board pays no permit fees.

    Completely with you though on the call to get the national conversation and action on a real workable policy. Then hopefully we’ll all be enjoying the chips.


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