It is now over thirty plus years ago since Grenada had a national transport service, which served this country with satisfaction.
Grenadians do not have that kind of service today, which in fact had really enhanced productivity and efficiency in nation building for the four-and-a-half years of the Grenada Revolution.
Today if for some reason you have to stay back in St. George after 7:00 pm. in the evening you cannot get a bus to go to the outer parishes and as a result you may have to take a transport that will cost you an exorbitant amount and in most cases just not affordable to most persons.
Persons also take advantage of the word free market.
There are big businessmen who will buy a bus or two and let it go in Grand Anse.
This zone is also known as accident prone while some persons turn their backs on the older buses – that’s how merciless is capitalism.
Government does not have a bus service. The nation is at the mercy of the private buses and operators in the event of a national strike.
There must be an understanding between the government and the buses that in my view are not receiving any help or incentives from the government.
We are forgetting that there was an old saying that what goes up must come down but apparently that does not apply in Grenada where gas price is concerned.
We must remember that even the Fisherfolks are given certain concessions on gas and buses have to cope with a very tough situation.
Look, Grand Anse alone has almost four hundred buses whereby some of them are finding it difficult to make a living.
There are two types of buses in Grand Anse – one is the pound road buses, which are relatively newer, and the line buses, which are largely the older buses.
The pound road buses will take the risk of running their buses up and down all day because they refuse to park their buses in the terminals and to wait all day making only three trips.
These pound road buses are the ones that really feel the wrath of the police by picking up passengers off the bus stops.
Some of the police officers apart from enforcing the law also take advantage of the situation.
Now we are forgetting the amount of buses that are being repossessed by the various banks due to their failure to meet their monthly payments.
The business of issuing bus route stickers should not be just in the hands of the Licensing Authority taking into consideration that the bus service is owned and operated by private people.
After the demise of the revolution, successive governments took the decision not to have a government transport service because it would have been too expensive.
The amount of money these private bus owners are saving the government and on top of that they are subjected to too much harassment from both the Police and the Traffic Court.
I am not advocating nor suggesting that buses should break the law but could you imagine that now on Grand Anse road sometimes there are
five buses moving up the road one behind the other with four and five passengers in them?
While the selling of buses is a lucrative business for people like Steele’s Auto and the commercial banks, it is a real headache for certain overcrowded and saturated bus routes.
This bus trade in my view is a great source of revenue for government hence they will not address this in a serious way.
I listened a senior police officer once who said that there are some police officers that are getting promoted due to the amount of tickets they issue – this speak volumes.
I can recall when I was the President of the National Bus Association, I was the one who made bus conductors optional because if a conductor did not show up for duties your bus had to be parked up which in my view was unfair to the bus owners who have to pay back the bank.
Sometimes there are inconsiderate police officers who will issue a ticket even when the buses are dropping an old person or even young children when it’s raining.
We also have to be mindful that there are so many police officers who now own buses and do not obey the bus stop rules but when they are on police duties they expect everyone to do as they say to them.
At times you will even be surprised to see where the police are parking their vehicles. There are some police officers who will go as far as hide in the bushes to see if an offence is committed – this is entrapment, this is not proper policing.
I am therefore calling on the government to please take a hard look at the service that is being offered by the bus operators.
There are so much rural workers who still have to keep bombing a ride because there is no weekend public transportation running in the country and this in my view is very bad for development.
While we have all of those idle buses just sitting there why don’t government contract some of them and make life easier for the commuters especially those who work in the tourism sector, which will ultimately cost the government cheaper.
Could you imagine that a Magistrate ordered the revocation of a conductor’s license? What is the wisdom in such harsh measure?
When you revoke someone license you are taking away his livelihood?
What do you expect him to do? How will he support his family? This person may well have to turn to crime.
I can recall when all emphasis was placed on buses especially on the Grand Anse route while trucks were over-filling their trays with gravel and sand spilling it all over the roads and around corners making it very dangerous for other road users.
Anyone can see that the real police presence is on the Grand Anse road and not on the outer parishes.
There are construction trucks that break the law every day in which twenty workers can be seen sitting dangerously around the truck trays and it was not licensed for that.