Saturday 4 July, 2020

Montague appeals for cessation of rumours about killings, JUTC strike

Robert Montague

Robert Montague

Transport Minister, Robert Montague, is appealing to persons who are spreading rumours on social media regarding the circumstances under which a taxi operator and driver/mechanic from the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) were killed in separate but seemingly related incidents within the last 24 hours.

The stabbing death of the taxi operator along Washington Boulevard in St Andrew, reportedly by a JUTC driver, was followed hours later by the shooting death of a JUTC driver/mechanic as he worked on a bus on Oxford Road in New Kingston. It is believed that his shooting was a reprisal for the stabbing death of the taxi driver.

“Since then, there have been many threats and rumours that have been circulating, especially on social media. As a result, JUTC drivers are in fear of their lives,” Montague said in a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are asking persons not to create voice notes that seek to create panic and spread rumours,” he pleaded.

The minister said the management of the JUTC was meeting with the company’s drivers with a view of resuming the bus service “as soon as it is humanly possible”.

However, he said “the constant rumours and allegations are not helping” the situation.

In an earlier statement on Tuesday, the state-owned JUTC said it was aiming for full resumption by the peak period at 5.00 pm on Tuesday, when persons would be heading home.

One of a number of police buses which were deployed to transport stranded passengers in the Corporate Area on Tuesday amid a withdrawal of service by Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) drivers in fear of their lives.

The minister told the House that meetings have been held with the unions, drivers, ministry staff and the police. He said the police have established a presence at all JUTC depots and along the routes.

“This is to provide assurance to the taxi operators, JUTC drivers, as well as to the traveling public,” Montage stated.

He said the various taxi associations have given assurances of normal service by their members.

Meanwhile, Montague appealed for calm while extending condolences to the affected families. He also appealed to stranded commuters to be patient.

The minister said the police and others have deployed vehicles to assist with taking commuters home, and he commended the many private motorists who he said rallied to transport strangers in their time of need.

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