Monday, April 22, 2024

PSV crackdown

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Safety for commuters and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators must be paramount.

That was the assessment of Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw who was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday morning as she tabled the Transport Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

In Bradshaw’s view, this amendment is not a reflection of the Transport Authority’s willingness to corroborate with the substantive legislation that already exists. Instead, it is to assist with the governance of a sector that has often felt like it cannot be governed.

“I want to make it abundantly clear in this debate, that this particular amendment and certainly the regulations that will follow, must at the outset be viewed as an attempt by this administration to ensure the safety first and foremost of persons who use Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) in this country,” Bradshaw said.

“This is not an area where we can compromise. I feel very strongly that all of us have a responsibility when it comes to road safety. We all use the roads and we are all impacted by vehicles, whether it be a car or a PSV.”

Bradshaw, who is also the Minister of Transport and Works, continued: “It is not a Government problem, it is a society problem that we need to address. It is an issue we have to address at the level of owners of these vehicles because at the end of the day, a person is entitled to embark on having an investment such as owning a vehicle. They can’t be absolved of a responsibility to do the things according to law that are necessary to ensure their vehicle is safe, is in a clean and proper manner for the person who has to drive it.”

The acting Prime Minister announced that after consultation with stakeholders in the transportation sector, the Transport Authority regulations have been drafted, vetted and approved by Cabinet. She stressed that despite the work done to finally put regulations in place, it was not a document that could not be changed.

The amendment would see the expansion of the functions of the Transport Authority including the power to issue, suspend or cancel licences of drivers and conductors of PSVs, motor omnibuses, minibuses and route taxis. It allows for them to issue, suspend or revoke permits and badges of drivers of those vehicles.

It would also see the Minister responsible for transport, with the approval of the Minister responsible for finance, prescribe the fees to be paid in respect of permits, licences and badges issued.

Complaints from the public and behaviour to be addressed include: trying to cut the queue in the terminal, racing of the engine while commuters are boarding, playing of music on the route or while the vehicle is parked in a public place (sets will have to be removed), wearing of uniforms, keeping vehicles clean and with proper tyres and licence plates, and harassing passengers to board a vehicle.

“We are expecting people to behave in a civil and orderly manner and we are insisting as well that there should be no abusive language or making insulting gestures,” Bradshaw added.

Operators should not carry any kind of weapons; there is to be no smoking, eating or drinking while driving; vehicles should not carry more than the legal capacity; drivers should take precautions while passengers are boarding or disembarking; conductors should not be on the running board as the vehicle is moving; conductors should not distract drivers; the correct change should be given and there is to be no loitering on the road.

Bradshaw said there would be meetings with the PSV bodies, adding that the legislation was not meant to cripple business, but safety must be paramount. (JC)

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