This is part one of a two-part series where I examine the underlying realities behind the busmen strike for three days in October 2016.
In part one I will deal with the issues stated during the first two days of the strike while in part two I will examine the change in tone and the more serious matters raised on day three.
It is clear that the bus strike arose from a number of serious concerns being faced by busmen who lacked the organisation and ability to formulate their concerns and target the relevant authorities.
Analysis would show that these concerns are not restricted to bus drivers but are symptomatic to deeper issues in the society.
The matters raised by the busmen on days one and two centered around first, their treatment in the Magistrate’s Court and secondly the number of buses allowed by the authorities to ply certain routes, the Grand-Anse bus route in particular.
The first issue was dispatched speedily when several matters of fact came to light. To begin with it became quite clear to all that the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act was the same law for all users of the road and that there was no special law for busmen.
This being the case it left everyone to wonder how come it was only a handful of busmen protesting the application of the law and why not all other users of the road?
It came to light for example that one of the leading protesters and one who had obtained the solidarity of several of his colleagues to plead his case had no less than one hundred and two appearances in the Magistrate’s Court. He is a serial traffic offender.
It also became known that the $6,000 charge being bandied about was a combination of several outstanding small charges ranging from $150 to $1,000 and not $6,000 in one sitting as we were led to believe.
Under the Act several Traffic offences attract points being attached to your license per violation. Most offences attract three points. The points are cumulative. When the driver reaches eighteen points he loses his driving license. Again this is not a bus driver law; this law applies to all road users.
Further, it was revealed that rulings of the Magistrate’s Court can be appealed to a higher court. The fact that there has not been abarrage of appeals from the Magistrate’s Court to a higher court is testimony to the soundness of the decisions at the lower court.
So the protest on this particular issue did not gain traction andfizzled out quickly. The problem of course is that the protesters werein possession of all this information. So why did they fire the shot?
A minority of our citizens have developed immunity to the rule oflaw. They are willing to push the boundaries of the laws of the land to its extreme breaking point even at their own detriment. These desperados allow their disregard for law and order to push them into a corner and sometimes off to prison where they join the band of chronic offenders.
I can only use my personal experience to attempt to explain this. The truck driver who ripped away the backside of my vehicle did not make good the reimbursement of my repair costs until I had made four appearances in the Magistrate’s Court, three of which he made no appearance, and until a warrant was issued for his arrest with a committal note being placed on his file.
At the high court level one vexatious litigant against me has boasted openly among his friends that I will not receive a penny from three orders of the court ordering him to pay the cost of bringing actions against me.
In my opinion this malaise is creeping through society where flaunting the law and the orders of the court has become a practice.
“If the priest could play who is me?” If the head of the nation is proud to be in contempt of court, then what of the busman? Here we risk entering cliché territory by mentioning the relationship between a spoiling fish head and the fish.
It is significant to note that the ‘old school’ buses pounded the road merrily while their ‘high roof’ counterparts struck. Also of significance is the fact that the ‘old school’ drivers are not among the serial offenders of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act and do not feature regularly before the Magistrate’s Court. This is a clear indicator that the deterioration and the wanton disregard for law and order is a recent practice and not from the ‘old school’.
The issue of too many buses on the road belongs to the more serious part of the busmen complaints and thus I have relegated it to part two of this series.
Once again simple matters are being complicated by various interests in our society to promote their own agenda. In doing so they sometimes succeed in motivating innocent parties to do their bidding while they stand aside and laugh.
It became clear on day three of the busmen strike they were beginning to formulate their problems and zoom in on the material issues affecting them. It is also true that several of these issues are not akin to busmen and they must be congratulated for taking a stand where others have feared to thread.
More in part two.