HEAD of the Police Traffic Division Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis is calling for the appointment of a transport czar to right the wrongs that currently plague the country's public transport sector.
"It is full time now to put an end to this. We want a system whereby we have a transport czar -- a czar that is elected or selected by Parliament, so that when that person is elected nobody can say anything to say that this man or woman has been politically appointed to deal with the bus system," Lewis told reporters and editors yesterday at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters.
According to Lewis, the transport sector employs thousands of Jamaicans, and political parties, especially when they are in Opposition, handle the transport operators with kid gloves because of the huge swathe of votes that can be garnered.
"The system is of such now that it is the second biggest employer to Government. So it has a lot of votes. If you have a czar, then nobody can say anything when pressure is applied on these minibus operators, because pressure must be applied," he said.
Pointing out that minibus operators flout the law constantly and display scant regard for other users of the road, Lewis said: "Once you give them an inch, it is a mile that is going to be taken."
He also advocated the implementation of a system which will see employers checking the driving records of prospective employees in order to weed out the 'bad eggs' out of the system.
"We have drivers who amass up to 500 tickets. We have a driver who operates in Clarendon who cannot be found. We have gone to his house, and every time we have gone there we just missed him or he has removed six or seven months ago. That man has amassed 1,091 tickets, over 1,000 points, and in the system he owes Government over $3 million, but the system is of such that you have some legal arguments as to who is supposed to suspend that licence," Lewis said.
He also pointed out that, since 2009, traffic cops have seized over 1,000 fraudulent drivers' licences.