Minister Michael Lashley Struggling to Deliver Average Transportation Service
The following comment was posted by BU commenter Artax in response to a statement by BU that questioned Minister Michael Lashley’s ability to supply an efficient public transportation service in Barbados – Barbados Underground
Transport Board has been STRUGGLING for months to put at least 85 units on the road per day. “How did (Lashley) plan to rollout a contingency?” By providing his usual “lip service.”
Lashley is only full of talk and can been deemed as being failure in his present role as transport minister than when he was minister of housing. Perhaps he is of the opinion “success” can be transferred from one ministry to the next without trying to achieve it through hard work.
For months commuters have been complaining about the “inordinate amount of time” they have to wait in the Fairchild Street bus terminal for TB to service routes in rural districts, such as Martins Bay, Sugar Hill and Bathsheba. How did Lashley respond to this situation? By saying “a DRAFT FRAMEWORK had been COMPLETED that would ALLOW private transporters, including operators of minibuses and tour coaches, to ENTER bus terminals DURING PEAK PERIODS and transport commuters on 14 routes. And they should START rolling into City terminals BEFORE the END of the Christmas holidays.” [Source: Daily Nation, December 19, 2016]
This proposal “looks very good on paper.” However, surely Lashley and the officials at the Transport Authority should be aware that the Traffic Laws and Regulations would have to be amended, if this suggestion is to become a reality. Why? Because “tour coaches and private transporters” are NOT registered to “pick up and set down passengers at bus stops,” and are not insured to engage in this practice.
As such, the operators of minibuses and tour coaches, through their collective bargaining agent, Alliance Owners of Public Transport Inc., [AOPT] have expressed their refusal to participate in the proposal. As at January 3, 2017, almost one week after the Christmas holidays, no tour coaches in the terminals and commuters are still complaining.
And TB’s methods of allocating bus repairs to service providers are also a cause for concern.
During the Budget debate in June 2015, while denying to suggestions from the opposition that TB allowed a private firm to install buses transmissions “at upward of three times what they cost, Lashley assured the House “MAJORITY of the MECHANICAL WORK REQUIRED by the Board was BEING ASSIGNED to UCAL, in preference to Quality Care, L&N, TransTech and Simpson Motors.” [PressReader, June 15, 2015]
Recall UCAL’s workshop in located at TB’s Weymouth Headquarters. Yet, on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, TB advertised an “Expression of interest for the repairs of ten (10) Hino buses.”
Not only has TB been systematically reducing bus repairs to UCAL and breached payment agreements, the Board solicited the services “of three Trinidadian engineers who have set up shop at the Transport Board’s Mangrove depot in St Philip and are reportedly repairing a number of buses. Reports were that UCAL was directed to transport 14 buses to the Mangrove mechanical workshop to be assigned to the Trinidadians.” [Source: Daily Nation, March 15, 2016]
Additionally, Sir Roy “previously charged that the Transport Board had been giving the repair work to outside sources and not to UCAL.” He said: “They continue to send buses elsewhere, even though UCAL is UNDER SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT to work day and night and to work as well on Sundays and public holidays, so that many days we a crew of workers available and on site, but they do not have enough work.” [Source: PressReader, December 8, 2016]