Barbados is inundated with the plagues of the public service vehicle syndrome, which also affects Jamaica, and other Caribbean nations.
The syndrome is characterized by unruly disrespectful behaviour by drivers and conductors towards passengers. The disrespect of road traffic rules and regulations, including bad driving practices, forcing passengers to overcrowd the buses, and loud obnoxious reggae music.
Drivers and conductors tend to be poorly dressed, and are very short on manners. In many instances these individuals can be seen while working on these vehicles drinking alcohol, and in some cases even venturing to smoke.
The owners appear not to be very concern for the safety of the passengers as they continue to employ workers who do not have good work ethic, and carry under their belts many violations of the road traffic rules. Owners claim that it is difficult to control these workers because there are only a few persons who want to drive the vehicles.
Owners continue to focus on the almighty dollar at the expense of passenger's safety. Insurance companies in Barbados have tried to bring some order to this sector by increasing premiums because of the amount of the bad behaviour displayed on our roads, but has not done much to curbing the problem.
The government of late, through the deputy prime minister, Attorney General Freundel Stuart on the 9th November, 2009 has proclaimed a warning that PSV operators might temporarily lose their licenses if the bad behaviour persist.
This is not a road that needs to be taken unless it is a last resort, but what is needed is for owners of these public service vehicles to experience similar fines which the drivers and conductors they employ, and continue to employ, when they are found breaking the law.
This would encourage PSV operators to seek employees who will treat their vehicles and passengers with respect.
Barbados needs to take a leaf out of the book of Trinidad and Tobago in imposing stiff fines on owners and drivers. Trinidad doesn't have a problem with overcrowding on PSV nor is loud music played on the vehicles, because speakers are limited to about 5 inches in size. Any thing above this size one is charged.
Owners will only take the government seriously if the laws of the land affect them directly.