FORMER Cabinet minister and Member of Parliament, Colin Campbell has defended his appointment as managing director of State-run bus firm, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), insisting that he applied like all interested persons and deserves a chance to show what he is made from.
Campbell, a trained journalist and public relations specialist, was appointed managing director of the JUTC on August 12 on a three-year contract, a move which drew harsh criticism from the Jamaica Labour Party and that organisation's affiliate, Generation 2000 (G2K).
Campbell, who served as MP for Eastern St Andrew when the ruling People's National Party won the general elections of 1993 and 1997, also served as Minister of State for Transport and Works, with specific responsibility for the JUTC between 1993 and 1997.
The straight-talking former treasurer and life member of the Press Association of Jamaica, also has stints as Minister of Information and Development and Press Secretary to former Prime Minister Michael Manley, and General Secretary of the PNP, on his resume.
"Opinions are not my problem. Everybody has opinions and all I can do is be respectful of their opinions," Campbell told Sunday Observer journalists in attendance at the Observer Press Club, held at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue offices last Wednesday.
"The person that runs the JUTC does not necessarily, in my own view, needs to be himself a transport expert, because there are many positions that we have there in terms of the transport part.
"What you need is somebody who can lead the organisation effectively to achieve a number of objectives, some of which are transport objectives, some are financial objectives, some are service objectives and I think I can only say that when any objective method is used from this point onwards, everybody will be able to see that JUTC is a company that is improving, not only in terms of our own management, but in terms of service delivery and the JUTC will become a preferred place to work, because it is an exciting place to work, it offers a career opportunity and those things will happen because of the management of the JUTC," Campbell said.
Admitting that he, like 37 other persons, applied for the job, Campbell dismissed talk that he was called in by the government that he supports and simply handed the job.
"In terms of the process (of selection) the Board can speak to that, but I responded to an invitation like any other applicant and a result came, so I can only proceed with what I have been appointed to do.
"I applied for the job. I did. As you may know I was associated with transport some years ago. I had always maintained my interest and my sentiment to the transport sector and indeed considered it a few years ago, but perhaps the time wasn't right. I decided that perhaps now is the time to see if I could do it," he said, adding that time will prove how effective he becomes.
"In this particular case, the proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating," Campbell stated.
G2K, through its President, Floyd Green described Campbell's appointment, among other things, as "a barefaced and disgraceful blow to transparency and basic principled integrity.
"For months, we at G2K have been insisting that there be a greater level of transparency in appointments of this nature. Our calls have gone unanswered and instead we are faced with another appointment that reeks of patronage, cronyism and outright Anancyism," Green said in a statement to the media.
However, JUTC Chairman, Rev Garnett Roper, also defended Campbell's appointment, saying that his experience as a former state minister for transport, tipped the scale in his favour.
The JUTC had said that it had shortlisted five of the 38 people who had applied for the job and Campbell received the highest score in the final round of interviews.
Rev Roper told the media shortly after the appointment, that should Campbell fail to meet certain targets and achieve stated objectives, his job could be placed on the chopping block.