Give us duty free too, say operators

Claiming that they were being treated as second-class citizens, private transport operators have demanded special privileges to help keep them afloat.

The owners and operators of public service vehicles (PSVs) said it would only be fair if they were allowed to import vehicle parts duty-free and if they were assigned dedicated lanes on the island’s roads during busy periods.

Speaking last night at a ceremony at Divi Southwinds to honour operators with good safety records, owner/operator Ian Walcott complained that members of Barbados’ horse racing fraternity were granted duty waivers on parts imported for their vehicles, yet the people whose livelihoods depended on their vehicles received no such privileges. His claim could not be immediately verified.

“Everyone in Barbados gets some form of duty-free concession, whether it is parts or vehicles, and we as an industry have received nothing,” Walcott told fellow PSV owners.

“Are we second class citizens? Why do we have to beg for incentives which other industries are given readily?”

He also contented that owners felt restricted in the face of rising costs while they were prohibited from charging higher fees.

“Our fares are set by Government and not regulated by market forces as customary in the average business model . . . and we reached a stage where our expenses have now increased, inflation has increased, yet the Government has not offered anything to compensate us for having to maintain the bus fare at $2.”

The PSV owners and operators also complained that clogged roads made it challenging to get people to their destinations.

President of the Bridgetown Port Taxi Association Villeneuve Greaves said this was particularly evident whenever there were cruise ships in port.

Greaves called for dedicated lanes, arguing that while they were being called upon to support the country’s leading money earner, it was often difficult to take visitors around the island.

“When it is cruise ship passengers, it is direct foreign exchange . . . .The transit area from the port for those vehicles will be Bridgetown to the south coast as far as Accra [Beach], or on the west coast, Spring Garden going to Holetown.

“Yet the authorities know that there will be additional traffic and no deference is made for the movement of these vehicles to earn income,” he contended.

“There should be a dedicated lane for these vehicles from the point of origin to these areas and across Bridgetown. It is not difficult to do because we already have double lanes.”

The taxi driver suggested that such lanes could also be reserved for Government and emergency vehicles.

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