Thursday 6 August, 2020

Senator warns stop supporting lawlessness; PSVs under the microscope

An Opposition Senator is warning the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government not to change laws to accommodate those who wish to engage in lawless activities.

Addressing the debate on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2018, Senator Caswell Franklyn questioned the true purpose of the amendment:

"This is a Bill where government wants to get some money and they want to get it fast, and you throw in another few amendments... The amendments were not properly thought out."

He went on to highlight one such area which he believes was not well designed:

"You remember the jam-buster? Years ago we had ZR men and minibus men doing what they like on the road. Passing you at roundabouts, passing you on the inside and we couldn't get them to stop, because the police ain't holding them and if they get hold by the police when you carry it to court, the magistrate caseload so long it taking years before they get before the court. So what government did? The government then legislated that you could do that foolishness and call it jam-buster. 

"Now we have a situation, where people now breaching the law again. You have minibuses that have a seating capacity - it was 11 to 24 seat minibus and the route taxis had a maximum of 15 seats. Fellas put additional seats in the vehicles and drive all about the place every day with them."

Noting that public service vehicle operators were easily able to get around breaking the law, he lamented what he believes is now the legitimisation of this behaviour: 

"When it comes to licensing them at the end of the year or the beginning of the year, they take out a couple of seats and go in and get the registration sorted out, drive around the corner put back in the seats and Government believes that that is something they should encourage. Because the fellas decide 'I putting in more seats and wunna can't stop me' - same thing with jam-buster - you increase the seating capacity because people were breaking the law."

Franklyn stressed that it is time for the government to fight back against such behavior, warning that if laws continue to change to accommodate recklessness, it could be detrimental to the Barbadian society: 

"You have to stand up and say to these people enough is enough, if you break the law we will take away your licence or something.

"The ZR men, I go up the River Bus Stand, and they block the road - half an hour for me to get out the bus stand and I'm driving through. You know why? No police out there and they are undisciplined and we encourage this indiscipline by everytime they break the rules we change the law to accommodate them. You have to put police to watch them or it is chaos and we are satisfied with that. 

"I go to St Lucia fairly often and I go into the bus stand - not one policeman. The buses look like our ZRs - fella drives in, park, and when that full-up the fella move on. No police in sight, but if a police is not in sight in Barbados, there is fighting, there's noise, and guns and all sort of stuff. And we, rather than dealing with that, every time they break the law, we encourage them by legislating that the breach is no longer fact - this nonsense got to stop."

Reinforcing his point that the Bill was rushed, he asked the Transport Minister to explain what will happen to certain categories of vehicles: 

"They took the seating capacity for minibus now from 11 to 24, to 21 to 57 and the route taxis are now 20 seats, from 15 to 20. 

"Did the Minister consider that there are some small, little minibuses that have the same seating capacity as ZRs and for whatever reason, the fella could not afford a big one and he was happy and contended to transport 15 people. So those small minibuses that have 15 seats or so, what will happen to them now when you take the minimal seating capacity from 15 to 21? Those little minibuses will no longer qualify to be a minibus - we think this thing out properly or are those people now going to have to register those as ZRs or go out of business? I don't think anybody thought about that...

"You have to think these things out before you implement them. And why are we going to have these problems? Because the Minister wants to rush to Parliament and let everybody see that he's doing something, and passing things that could be fixed. They'll have to come back and fixed these again you know."

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