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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Let the taxi drivers protest! The new Road Traffic Act must be passed

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I urge the government to stay focused on getting the road traffic legislation passed into law and not be side tracked by protest action of sundry taxi associations.

After many years of unbridled indiscipline on our roads, at least on paper, the soon to be enacted Road Traffic Act promises to restore some semblance of order. If the Act is enforced, the new penalties and punitive fines should be effective deterrents to those among us who take pleasure in displaying disregard for the rules of the road.

Operators of 'route taxis' are some of the main promoters of the disorder on our roads, so it is not surprising that they and their associations are against provisions of the Act. As they tell it, the increased fine and hopefully improved enforcement will force them out of business. Implicit in their position is the suggestion that route taxis cannot operate within the constraints of the Road Traffic Act and 'eat a food'. Hogwash!

To further bolster their position, they cite the valuable service they provide moving workers, students, etc from 'point A to point B' as if to suggest the provision of a valuable service is justification for endangering the lives of their passengers and other users of the road.

The Government must not succumb to attempts at blackmail by route taxi operators withdrawing service and punishing their beloved passengers. To avoid traffic fines, all the motoring public (route taxi operators included) need to do is obey the law.

I urge the Government to 'stand firm' and press ahead while ensuring the enforcement component is in place with traffic cameras that work. Anticipate vandalism and ensure adequate supplies of spares are available. The Government must also plan for the long-term and adequately resource the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) to transform it from a ramshackle service to one designed to transport passengers in a dignified manner.

The JUTC must be part of comprehensive transportation policy to include the much talked about restoration of the train service.

It is a national disgrace that Jamaica had a train service before the mighty United States of America but while they progressed to electric trains and now self-driving cars, we regressed to mini-buses and now, route taxis.

Legacy road projects notwithstanding, our challenge with congestion on the nation's roads will continue until we develop a comprehensive transportation policy incorporating road, rail and sea.

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Plummer

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