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February 1, 2013
Star News


 

Busmen driving drunk! - Coaster crews abuse alcohol while on duty
Andre Williams, STAR Writer

Drivers of several public passenger vehicles, mostly coasters, are putting themselves and their passengers at risk as they drink alcohol while behind the steering wheels of these vehicles.

Investigations by THE WEEKEND STAR have uncovered that many of these drivers show blatant disregard for their lives and those of their passengers, as they discreetly drink hard liquor while operating the buses.

Many passengers have complained to THE WEEKEND STAR about the practice, which is apparently customary among the bus drivers in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR).

"Some drivers will hide and do it. Dem pour di rum or alcohol in a drinks bottle and pose like a something soft dem a sip on. More time, di rum strong you can smell it and you find that some passengers sit there and do or say nothing," a commuter who traverse the Lawrence Tavern to downtown Kingston route revealed. "I have seen where a driver was arrested for the unlawful practice, however, a lot a dem get away with it and end up drive under the influence and kill off people."

He said if the authorities were really devoted to catching these drivers, undercover operations would expose most.

"I don't drive with any and any driver. I have my preference. I feel comfortable driving with the drivers that I am used to from school days, the ones that I know have good road ethics. Sometimes, the side man dem or the loader men too are guilty because dem a drink wid the drivers too. A lot of road accidents a gwaan, so mi nuh run certain joke with my life!" Ingrid Jones, a student nurse added.

In one of our probes, THE WEEKEND STAR travelled on a route where it is alleged that many of the drivers drink hard liquor while working. In one bus at a terminus, we sat two seats on the opposite side behind the driver.

drinking

The conductor told him to "shub out di rum" and he immediately handed him a soft drinks bottle. The conductor poured some of the contents of the bottle into a cup and threw half of a bag juice he had bought on it. As soon as he began pouring the liquid into the cup, a strong stench of rum filled the bus. The conductor then handed the bottle and the remainder of the bag juice to the driver, who poured the rest of the juice into the bottle and began drinking.

THE WEEKEND STAR was amazed as the incident happened right in front of the many passengers on the bus, but not one person raised an eyebrow. We later discovered that the drinking and the stench of the hard liquor were the norm.

Amazingly enough, though, drivers themselves were not afraid to admit the regular drinking of hard liquor by bus crews.

"Is not a good practice and a lot of drivers are guilty of it. I am not irresponsible, so I don't drink and drive but I would be lying if I said it did not exist. Sometimes, as early as in the morning, you would wonder if dem nuh know bout breakfast or a dat a dem breakfast," one driver admitted. "On a Friday especially, a dat a di floss day."

A much older coaster driver added: "Is a thing weh mi see most of the young drivers dem a do. A years now mi a drive bus and mi nuh drink and drive, mi wait til mi done work and find a bar. Some of dem do it for a hype to attract the young ladies."

Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, who heads the Police Traffic Division, said the police are aware of the practice and several drivers have been convicted. "Many have been convicted for drunk driving or drinking while driving. It is not prevalent but it does happen," he revealed.

Efforts to reach a representative from the National Transport Co-operative Society (NTCS) proved futile up to press time last night.


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