The President of the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT), Godfrey Ferdinand, urges tough penalties against errant bus operators and citizens.
In this regard, Ferdinand said the NCOPT had asked the government to set up a disciplinary committee empowered to suspend or revoke the permits of bus operators who persist in breaking the law.
“When you take measures like that, it sends a clear message that no form of indiscipline is tolerated in the sector,” he told St Lucia Times.
Ferdinand said the organisation had fruitful discussions with Transport Minister Stephenson King regarding the disciplinary committee.
“We wanted it by June 1. We are working towards that ,” he explained, adding that the proposed new body would be a sub-committee of the Road Transport Board.
However, Ferdinand pointed out that not only bus operators lack discipline.
“We have a very indisciplined society where persons insult and assault bus drivers. Sometimes we take it to the police, and all they tell us ‘Oh, just resolve your thing’ and that shouldn’t be,” the NCOPT official lamented.
According to Ferdinand, there should be strict laws against passengers insulting or assaulting bus operators.
Regarding passenger complaints against bus operators, he told St Lucia Times that the existing procedure is that the offended person can write the operator’s bus association providing his licence plate number, copying the complaint to the NCOPT and the Ministry of Transport.
Ferdinand said the complaint comes before the disciplinary committee of the association, which would decide on the matter.
The action could include compensation to the aggrieved passenger, a fine, or an operator suspension.
However, Ferdinand believes that the procedure represents a slap on the wrist.
“What we do is just suspend the person – that’s the most we can do. We can suspend but the person still has a valid driver’s licence. We are not responsible for the licence. We are not responsible for the permit. So what the person does, he is suspended but his vehicle is still making an income for him,” he told St Lucia Times.
Ferdinand indicated that a government disciplinary committee would be able to suspend or revoke the permits for persistent lawbreakers.
Headline photo: Godfrey Ferdinand