The creation of jobs is one of the key areas Government will now be focusing on says Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
She made the comments this afternoon as she visited Lears, St. Michael, where a team from Endless Electric Limited, led by Wayne Clarke and Dan Johnson, had restored and converted an old Transport Board bus to an electric one.
After viewing the bus, Ms. Mottley was taken on a short ride. At the end, she said: “The creation of jobs now is one of the key things that this Government will be focused on, and it will happen not just in the new areas of activity, such as renewable energy and medicinal cannabis…but it must happen in some of the traditional areas where we can do better some of the things we want to do…”
The Prime Minister noted that Government had just settled the arrangements to buy a number of electric buses from China.
She explained, however, that Government wanted to have a continuous procurement process so there could be a rolling replacement programme.
“But at the same time, we also felt that we have too many empty shells [of buses] and when a proposal was made to purchase one shell to see what could be done, the Government was more than willing to give these young entrepreneurs…an opportunity. I, therefore, wanted to see what could be produced and as you can see this is magnificent work….
“This is what we can do if we put our minds to it. This is a prototype; they now need to go back to the table and see whether they can make a business case because as much as we want to help Bajans, it still has to meet the business case that the country can afford…. Government is disposed towards working with Barbadians to create opportunities wherever we can, but I give the warning always that it has to be within reasonableness,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley expressed the view that there should be a combination of approaches to the procurement of buses.
She contended that empowering citizens was important, and gave as an example bus drivers being able to pool their resources to purchase and own a bus.
Retired Transport Board driver Ricardo Briggs praised the electric bus, saying it was very responsive.
“The braking system is superior to the other buses. It is a nice feeling to drive it; it handles well and I just hope that we will be in a position to do more buses and bring local jobs because this is a viable option,” Mr. Briggs said.
Wayne Clarke of Endless Electric Limited said the electric bus should be 75 per cent more efficient than any diesel bus and therefore there would be greater savings to the taxpayers.