Sunday 17 November, 2019

Stoning of JUTC buses costs taxpayers over $400m - Montague

Unscrupulous persons who continue to stone buses belonging to the state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) have cost taxpayers a whopping $430 million to repair the damaged units since 2015.

This was revealed on Tuesday by Transport Minister Robert Montague during his contribution to the 2019/2020 Sectoral debate in the House of Representatives.

The minister noted that between 2015 and the present there have been 408 stoning incidents, which works out at an average of 1.6 incidents per week.

“The cost for replacing one windscreen is J$1.1 million. Furthermore, they have to be imported from Europe. It is not cheap,” Montague stated.

Meanwhile, the minister acknowledged that while the company’s mandate indicates that it should be rolling out 430 buses each day, it was only able to place around 360 vehicles on the roads each day as many of the buses are in a state of disrepair.

“The fleet we inherited is old and was not properly maintained but we have introduced a rigorous maintenance and security program,” Montague told the House.

He also revealed that the company presently has $1.7 billion worth of spare parts in store.

“We are now moving to repair more and more buses but we must purchase new buses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Montage disclosed that the JUTC was in preliminary discussions with a transport operator who wants to be a sub-franchise holder for four of the routes in Portmore, St Catherine.

“If these talks are successful, 25 buses will be introduced into the system. We are excited about this. We are also offering 225 new sub-franchise routes to the JUTC,” the minister shared.

And he said he has given instructions for the JUTC to consolidate all of its head office operations “at the almost empty Lyndhurst Road Depot.” He argued that head office type operations are all located in different places. To address the problem an internal estimate of $140 million has been generated to consolidate the operations.


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