Lives at risk
PSV owners lament absence of police from River van stand
The absence of police from the River van stand is putting the lives of hundreds of commuters and public service vehicle (PSV) workers in peril, Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael warned today.
And while the Barbados Transport Authority said improved security would be in place once redevelopment of the van stand on John Beckles Drive was complete, Raphael said a short-term solution was required urgently.
The head of the PSV owners organization insisted in an interview with Barbados TODAY that without lawmen present in the busy ZR and minibus stand, chaos and indiscipline would reign. He said the situation was compounded by the fact that there was an increase in the number of PSVs operating out of the terminal.
Raphael acknowledged there had been no major incidents so far, but cautioned that it “doesn’t mean that it may not occur”.
“I am concerned that recently they have not had any police officers in the terminal and it is serious. We have a number of persons moving through that terminal every day. . .” he said, suggesting that if Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith could no longer spare any of his men for duty at the River van stand, transport authorities should explore the possibility of hiring private security.
“Since the River van stand is being treated as a terminal . . . if the police commissioner cannot provide the police officers on a daily basis, then the Transport Authority needs to examine the Transport Board Act and see if under the Act, they need to look at private security that have the power under the Transport Board terminal to supervise and secure the River van stand,” Raphael added.
The AOPT head said his organization was seeking a meeting with the Authority on the matter, and had instructed its attorney to send correspondence asking for security concerns to be addressed speedily, in the interest of public safety.
When contacted this afternoon, Director of the Transport Authority Alex Linton told Barbados TODAY that improved security would be part of the redevelopment of the River terminal.
“All those things will be looked at under that redevelopment initiative and once that project is completed, the security aspect would be taken care of,” he said. “We intend to have security cameras, there will be an enclosed terminal . . . so that would provide a lot more safety for the passengers, and the operators will have an area where only they would be able to be operating from.”
In the interim, he said, security would be provided by officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force who would either be stationed in the van stand or would drive through on patrol. Linton said if the officers were not there, it might be that resources were not available.
“But that’s the best we can [do]. We have put in some lights already in the terminal to illuminate it a bit better, and as soon as the project is finished, you are going to see even greater lighting, a different look and a different feel to that terminal. That is how the police and the Authority, via the MTW [Ministry of Transport and Works], are addressing those concerns,” he assured.
Linton indicated that the first phase of the redevelopment project, which will feature a covered passenger terminal, should be completed by year end. In the second phase, a covered section for the PSVs will be provided. While not specifying the number of phases required to complete the project, the Transport Authority official said each phase would be executed as quickly as possible.