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Persons board a minivan in Kingstown in June 2014. (Photo: Robertson Henry)

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By Dave

I applaud the efforts of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force in attempting to improve the public transportation system. A number of new signs can be seen in and close to Kingstown, in part to enable a greater flow of traffic in some areas, such as areas where “keep clear” signs are seen. This appears as a deliberate attempt to improve the traffic situation, which is commendable. However, many omnibus operators seem to be above the law and the hands of the police and even some of the van drivers seem tied in this regard.

I specifically would like to zoom in on the omnibus operators on the windward side of the island, particularly those operating between Kingstown and Diamond. Many of the drivers seem to be simply holding the steering wheel, while the conductors do the driving using a remote control that is always seen in their hand. I thought the remote was to only control the music but I was wrong as I have numerous experiences travelling publicly.

Conductors do the hand signals which is often seen in Back Street, Kingstown and they approach the crossing close to the double line as they say “give me a squeeze in dey” while telling the drivers to pull over. This they do even without any form of possible clearance. Other times they would be heard telling the driver, “Buss ah second” meaning shift gear or “go through dey”, meaning take a detour because the main thoroughfare has too much traffic. These conductors also serve as legal eyes as they would often tell the drivers, “No police in the area. Turn here”. These areas of law-breaking include coming out of Windward Bus Terminal, at Peace Memorial Hall, the main road below Girls High School and in the main road at the gap leading to the Villa Campus of the Community College.

Though they can more than payback for themselves, through fines of omnibuses, the use of public cameras may be too expensive for the government to afford to monitor these lawbreakers who simply don’t care enough about human life. I am therefore proposing a solution. Almost every member of the travelling public is the owner of a smartphone. Many have data plans and even more have Wi-Fi at home. All these phones are equipped with video recording capabilities and many of us in the travelling public care about life and traffic safety.

Here are my suggestions, which can surely be improved upon: The police need to provide and advertise a couple of WhatsApp numbers to which the public can send videos. Provide a simple reward system, maybe $5 for each video of reckless driving or instances of law-breaking. Fines imposed on these drivers can cover this cost. No driver should be on the road with over three fines that have not be paid and a driver who reaches 10 fines should have his license suspended for a six-month period. Many of us in the public are willing and ready to help to curb the total reckless behaviour taking place publicly on our roads, primarily by some omnibus operators.

Why in this day and age do we still have conductors standing over passengers or sitting opposite a passenger with legs between a passenger’s? In an emergency, a passenger is a risk for a head-on collision with the conductor. Is this the best we can do for traffic safety? How much do we really care about the safety of the travelling public? Can we have the law amended to reduce the omnibus passengers by one so that the conductor must occupy a seated position? The last omnibus I travelled with last Thursday had eight students on the back seat. I almost thought it was cargo as the conductor insisted that they “small up” themselves. Photos like those can be forwarded to the police via WhatsApp with an image of the omnibus.

It’s time for more seriousness about traffic safety in action, and if as a police force you are already stretched to the limit, let us help by providing video footage of these incidents. The safety of the travelling public should not be taken for granted and you simply can’t do it alone with the current resources at your disposal.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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6 replies on “The woes of SVG’s public transportation system”

  1. We do have laws on the books covering driving on the roads, what we lack is any enforcements of these laws the police. It appears that the police choose which laws they will enforce according to the whims of individual officers. If we are really serious about road behaviour and road safety, then we should inform our elected representatives that unless they are prepared to act like a government and instruct the police to enforce laws without exceptions then we will vote them out of office. It is not just lawless road users that we should be concerned about but others who urinate on the streets in full view, those who liberally use profane language such as mother c in public, those who use threatening language, those who litter our streets, those who abuse our women/children in short we should be aiming to move towards a first world island by changes in our behaviour and not regress into a dog eat dog backward society. Again I would say none of this will be possible without proper government.

  2. The police need to take up that offer seriously, I almost lost the side of my jeep as a driver tried to push me off to get on the left at the area of the Kingstown Post office. Now they cross over all along the double lines. Do the former young conductors, many of whom are now drivers really know the traffic laws? How did they really get their license? Is there some level of corruption taking place somewhere, regarding the issuing of licenses? The new trend to avoid the Arnos Vale round about when heading to town by omnibuses from fountain area is through ACE yard. What next!

  3. Serious about traffic laws? I would sometimes be at ‘peace mo’ after 5pm when some traffic police officers finish duty. They would often get in the front seat of the same van as i travel with, but guess what? They won’t even attempt to put on a seatbelt. Seems like they hate the very law they occasionally enforce.

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