The privately owned transport sector is welcoming a recently announced campaign promise by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to grant the sector concessions on clean energy vehicles.
Head of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael has called the promise a step in the right direction, as the sector continues to be encumbered by aging fleets.
However, Raphael told Barbados TODAY a BLP Government would have to do much more than simply placing the offer on the table, as most operators would need to warm to the idea of going green.
“We will be happy with any form of duty-free concessions, but I want to clearly state that we have to educate our operators on clean energy vehicles such as electric vehicles. A lot of them are not yet comfortable with the idea, so we need to do a pilot project with electric vehicles before we can embrace it,” Raphael said.
During the BLP’s manifesto launch at Kingsland, Christ Church last Thursday night, candidate for St Philip South Indar Weir explained that PSVs would be given incentives in order to fast-track plans for making Barbados 100 per cent green and carbon-free by the year 2030.
“We will give duty-free concessions to PSV operators to import vehicles powered by clean energy and alternative fuels,” Weir said, while also promising that all Government vehicles and street lights would run on clean energy by 2025, should the BLP be elected to office in the May 24 general election.
However, the Raphael explained that with the entire PSV fleet in operation running on fossil fuels, the offer of duty-free concessions on green vehicles was a medium-term solution, and more immediate action was required to assist the sector.
“We would want to discuss our proposals with a new administration because 100 per cent of our fleets are fossil fuels. We still need assistance with getting vehicle parts in the interim in order to maintain the efficiency of our operations,” Raphael said, adding that the BLP’s plan to replace the road tax with a tax on fuel would assist the sector greatly in the short term.
“The idea of abolishing the road tax is something that we welcome and would have talked about before. We recognize that the PSVs use the road more than normal vehicles, [but] . . . we won’t have to find a lump sum payment for road tax,” the AOPT boss said.
Raphael drove home the point that PSV owners had to contend with annual payments of over $2,000 for road tax and permit fees, as well as approximately $30,000 for insurance. He argued that while operators may have to pay more at the pumps it would be less burdensome, especially if the permit fees were removed.
“If they remove the permit fees as well then at the end of the day we will not feel it as much if they take it out at the pump. So it is something that we welcome and we also believe that we can look at a toll at the bus terminal instead of the permit,” he recommended.