The problems created by PSVs have been with us for decades and the situation is deteriorating by the day. It is a sector built on the backs of Black people, although in the last ten to fifteen years we have observed a shift in ownership to the wealthy and prominent who operate behind the mask of limited liability companies.
The government promised when it assumed office to establish the Transport Authority – and it has – an umbrella entity to bring efficiency to the national transportation system. To be honest after three years of a Democratic Labour Party government can anyone say that the PSV situation has improved? The industry is in a mess!
The sector is poorly self-regulated. The Courts of Barbados are not able to efficiently enforce the law because of the systemic problem of congestion in case management. The government by its lethargic approach to regulating sector continues to perpetuate the same practiced by the previous government. In a nutshell the issues with the sector can be linked to known corruption.
If we are to believe the word making the rounds underground – a group of wealthy entrepreneurs will be rolling out a new bus service within the next few weeks. If we understand correctly the buses are already on island located at the complex of a popular car dealership owned by one of Barbados’ wealthy businessmen. How the Transport Authority will allocate routes to the entity if it becomes a reality is left to be seen.
What we know for sure – if wealthy entrepreneurs enter the private transportation system in Barbados they will do so with guarantees. Can anyone guess who will laugh all the way to the bank? Under the previous government the used car industry was destroyed, under this government we maybe seeing the demise of a sector with a dominant Black ownership.
Successive governments by their greed and corrupt behaviour allowed the private transportation to fester and now it has turned into a ‘liesore’. We have all heard stories about the free for all issuance of permits by Johnny Tudor, Gline Clarke and others. Some insist these permits were not approved out of an adherence to the application process. Why would this government not get off their asses and fix the problem to protect a large Black middleclass? Instead it seems to be taking the easy way out by opting to go the ‘throw your hands in the air’ approach. Commonsense says that this is a low hanging issue the government could have used to deflect criticism on the economic issues.
We have not even touched on the harm this sector has done through its contribution to laying a foundation to a subculture which has become mainstream for many in our youth population. The time has come for citizens, NGOs and other likeminded stakeholders to haul our society back from the precipice of disaster. Minister John Boyce earns a failing grade on the lack of a ‘working’ public transportation system after three years in office.