OPINION: New Controller; Really Big Stick

Dear Editor,

I hear there’s a new sheriff in town and rumour has it, he’s got a really big stick.

Here’s what we know about him; his name is Bradley Sands a.k.a Brad. He’s been a police officer for 30 plus years, done some family island policing and he’s a former chairman of the police staff association. His last stint, was in Exuma before he was summoned to Nassau to, “clean up the corrupt mess that is the road traffic department”.

He’s made it abundantly clear, that the years of the princiPAL are over. Make no mistake about it, he is a policeman. A policeman’s policeman. I’m not quite sure what else would make him a good controller and I’m certain his detractors could find a million reasons why he shouldn’t be, but I’ve got to admit, he seems to be a pretty standup guy. Mildly overzealous, but means well. After all, let’s face it, if cleaning up a corrupt mess is all that he’s capable of doing, I could think of several departments of government I would prefer to have him at over road traffic; like maybe the VAT office.

I do understand though that as a franchise holder and industry participant, the new controller’s successes are ours to share but his failures are mine to bear. Hence, I thought to offer the controller a bit of advice; enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. That is indeed the order of the day.

However, enforcement alone won’t be enough. You see the vile cesspool of corruption that he was sent to clean up doesn’t start with bus drivers or franchise holders, it does start though with cheap politicians prepared to take a bribe from big business owners, road traffic board members prepared to do a little favour for a friend, road traffic staff prepared to bend the rules a little and lastly but certainly not least among them, young gung-hoe, high-speed, low drag, police constables’ eager to make a name for themselves and anxious to frustrate the day of “y’all bus drivers”.

I guess then my second piece of advice is that no matter how big that stick, you’re going to need some help. It’s going to take industry leaders, career bus drivers, and people with interest in this business to assist you in achieving your tasks. While your tentacles may be long, Mr. Controller, you are only a man and as such, no one man can be everywhere. Franchise holders can be quite a tool for you to use sir. Meet us, talk to us, use us, but for God’s sake don’t make the mistake of trying to do it without us.

My next piece of advice kind of goes tongue and cheek, while there are some road traffic employees that bend the rules, there are many honourable, hardworking, trust worthy, competent members on that staff. Those men and women whether supervisor or line staff member are your new team and in the main, have the best interest of the controller’s intent at heart. Daily, optimum performance is required of them but insufficient resources are supplied to them. With that said, I remind you again, that they are your new team and I assure you that you can accomplish nothing, and I do mean nothing, without their support. Now that we’ve gotten that out the way Editor, here are some targets I wish the controller would zero his sites on.

Bus stop installations; bus drivers stop everywhere because they aren’t allowed to stop anywhere. Cultures change outcomes, people change cultures and systems, change people. Though simple it may seem, a meaningful partnership with the Ministry of Works’ signage division can overnight make this controller the most noticeable controller that we’ve had in the last decade. People claim that bus drivers are nothing more than incorrigible rogues, but like police officers, they come from among us, they are our sons and daughters, our boys and girls and a simple test case would be to observe the bus stops on the Western side of the Town Centre Mall. Bus drivers do not obstruct traffic on the western side of the Town Centre Mall.

Dear Editor, as the old saying goes, in most cases it’s the economy, stupid! And the controller’s department, nor this industry are exempt. In a time when personal motor vehicles are becoming even more accessible and with the lack of route expansion, more and more people are becoming motor vehicle owners. Used to be bus catchers, are opting to become car owners. What that translates to sir, is that adjustments must be made.

If my memory is correct, the last time there was a route adjustment, I was a junior high student. Today, I’m a military veteran. The controller’s department and its board should shy away from this no longer. This lazy, sluggard approach to route adjustments must be addressed and done so sooner rather than later. There is no reason the 14A should still be travelling along the Carmichael road corridor. Particularly since one school, two subdivisions, three government agencies and a dozen businesses including the mammoth Superplex Fusion have all been added to the Gladstone road corridor with ZERO access to public transportation. The time for the road traffic department to continue sitting on its hands must end in this controller’s tenure. Do not tire now Mr. Controller because I need you to wield that big stick. I don’t mean to weary you or bore you into submission so I’ve got just two more easy kills on how you can become the most notable controller of the decade.

Whether it be today, tomorrow or any of the days to follow in his tenure, this ungodly, unholy, unchristian practice of the unethical route cannibalization must cease. The controller knows who they are Editor, I am just hoping he can find out who did they pay and what was the price. The big charter companies cannot continue to rape bus routes. It is outside the scope of their franchises and should never have been permitted. Since he is a police officer, and one of her majesty’s finest I’m told, I’m hopeful that his keen inquiry and investigative skills can get to the bottom of this and end this un- sanctimonious practice forever. In simple terms, charter companies should not be taking passengers off of my route.

Then there’s the grand finale; bus drivers can continue no longer sir, with the embarrassment of having to wrestle from the clasps of patrons this peasant like the addition of twenty-five cents. Why do we make things so difficult? If the reason bus catchers never want to pay the twenty-five cents is that they do not wish to break a dollar then I say let’s help them.

Whether it was Toronto, Orlando, or even New Kingston City, I have never witnessed a bus fare that was such an embarrassment to the public transportation engineer and quite honestly in many instances, the buses there were half as nice and far less convenient.

One hundred and nineteen thousand dollars, is what the Toyota Coaster is on the open market for Editor and its time that we do away with this joke that young, Bahamian business owners can adequately maintain equipment and sustain bank commitments if the road traffic department, it’s controller and its minister mandates that we literally do it one dollar at a time. I’m not naïve Editor, and I know adjusting the bus fare to $2.00 is a big task. That means the controller is going to have to whip out his big stick and rest it in on the table. I do believe that he is an honourable man and he means well, therefore, I’ll be rooting for him. So, when he says he doesn’t care if bus drivers eat, or how they take care of their children and that his only concern is to reform the system, then it is my hope and my earnest plea that if men will be made paupers and children are made to starve, in the end, we do in fact reform the system.

Dear Editor, although unbelievable at this point, I am very much on the controller’s side and would like to congratulate him, through you, on his enforcement initiatives thus far. Believe me when I tell you; he’s got a heavy hand and a BIG stick.

 

Forever in Allegiance, Leyvon A. Miller III, JP

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