Another attack on a public service vehicle (PSV) operator has strengthened the resolve of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport to champion legislative change to ensure their safety.
A driver of a Route 3 PSV, which works from Bridgetown to Redmans Village was stabbed last week near the Western Life Nazarene Church, Oxnards, St James.
AOPT chairman, Roy Raphael, while speaking to Loop News on the dangers PSV operators face on more lonesome routes, indicated that he will be lobbying the Ministry of Transport to amend either the Road Traffic Act or Transport Authority regulations so that the “full weight of the law” can be applied culprits.
“I propose to write a letter to the Ministry of Transport, asking them that the next time they amend the Road Traffic Act or the Transport Authority Regulations, to make it an indictable offence that any person who has attacked or assaulted a public service vehicle operator shall feel the full breadth of the law. And also, I would want that to be put in all public service vehicles including taxis,” Raphael stated.
The attack on PSV driver comes six months after another driver — Victor Walton — was brutally murdered in St Lucy. Walton was discovered with two gunshot wounds to his head and died a week later after being on life support.
Raphael shared that due to the national mandate to wear masks, it was harder to identify potential perpetrators. Last year, the AOPT would have appealed to the public to lower their masks for drivers and conductors upon entering the PSV but it was ignored by commuters.
He suggested that the next step will be installing cameras in the vehicles.
“I think we need to move now to a next stage where buses will need to have cameras on board all vehicles and to allow persons who are entering the buses to lower their masks,” the AOPT chairman contended.
Raphael stressed that PSV operators, who contribute a substantial amount to the transport sector, should not be working uncomfortably out of fear of being assaulted or intimidated while on the job by passengers.
“Members of the public need to understand that we have to beef up our security. We cannot continue in this way because it has created some problems and it may have created problems for those persons who want to work late after 6 pm,” he maintained.
The AOPT chairman advised drivers to work with a conductor when possible on “empty routes” and he urged drivers and conductors not to put their lives at risk for $3.50.
“We also want the drivers and conductors to try as hard as possible not to have one or two persons in their bus. We want to encourage them where possible to have a conductor on board. That will also minimise the threat.”
“You might get a person that comes on the bus and doesn’t want to pay — let them go! Your life is worth more than $3.50,” he continued.
Raphael also disclosed that the untimely death of Walton and the subsequent funeral expenses prompted the AOPT to create an insurance package for their operators.
To offset the cost for Walton’s family, in February this year, the AOPT organised a fundraiser.