The United Transport Cooperative Ltd. (UTC) has been described as “groundbreaking with respect to the empowerment of workers and enfranchisement of ordinary Barbadians”.
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, made this comment today, in welcoming the entity formed by 38 former Transport Board employees, who are now operators in Government’s Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP).
Addressing media representatives following FundAccess’ official disbursement of funds to members of TAP, at the Warrens Office Complex, Mr. Sutherland said that it was part of Government’s thrust to ensure ordinary Barbadians had their fair share of wealth in this country, through participation and ownership.
Noting it was the Prime Minister’s passion and vision to give the ordinary man and woman his fair share of economic empowerment, he said: “Beyond the ordinary man and woman and beyond investment that comes either through foreign direct investment or investment from persons coming to these shores, we have a duty to the citizens … ordinary man and woman … our children … and we have a duty to leave a legacy that, come 50 years down the road, when we are gone, to see that intergenerational wealth is a reality in this country and created by members of the United Transport Cooperative Ltd.”
While stating there were other avenues to creating intergenerational wealth, Minister Sutherland stressed that the TAP programme, being managed via the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and FundAccess, would have the cooperation of the Ministry of Transport Works and Maintenance (MTWM).
He said the service to be provided through the Transport Board was critical, and should not be underestimated.
“We’ve come from a state of having less than 20 buses on our roads within the last two to four years and we knew when we had over 150 buses to provide what is a critical and efficient transport system in this country. And, don’t underestimate the role that you play because the ordinary man and the ordinary woman and even those persons who are classified as wealthy some of them take the public transport to get to work, and not having a bus, … not having transportation impacts productivity in a major way in this country.”
The cooperative is expected to benefit from the full disbursement of some $2.5 million, and Minister Sutherland thanked the BWU, MTWM and FundAccess for their involvement.
He acknowledged Government could not do it alone and was thankful for the role the social partnership, Third Sector and other stakeholders played in bringing value to the country.
Mr. Sutherland noted too, that in addition to their role in empowering and enfranchising, cooperatives spoke to equality, transparency and ‘one man having one vote’.
The UTC members were urged not to fight among themselves, but to respect each other, cooperate and be honest and transparent and ensure good communication, as they help to move students and workers in a timely fashion.