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Court starts hearing of transport lawsuit

Wednesday, July 02, 2014    

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THE Supreme Court yesterday started hearing arguments from lawyers for a group of bus and taxi operators, who are seeking injunctions to bar the continued enforcement of policies they claim are affecting them adversely.

The claimants are seeking the injunction to bar the enforcement of the policies until a determination is made in their lawsuit challenging the said policies.

Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Limited, the commissioner of police, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), and the Transport Authority have been named as defendants in the lawsuits.

The Rural Transit Association Limited is seeking judicial review of the decision to commandeer a section of the Mandela Highway during morning peak hours for the exclusive use of JUTC buses. The group is also challenging the authority of the JUTC to issue public transportation licences, as well as its authority to charge members fees to operate within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR).

The JUTC, the commissioner of police, and the OUR have been named as respondents in the Mandela Highway suit. The Transport Authority, JUTC and the OUR are respondents in the second suit filed by the group. The other application for judicial review has been filed by V&B Transport Limited and names the Transport Authority, JUTC and the OUR as respondents. V&B is also challenging the authority of the JUTC on the issues of granting licences and the charging of fees to operate within the KMTR.

The claimants are contending that the actions are unlawful, and said that it is the responsibility of the OUR, not the Transport Authority or any other body, to lawfully regulate the public transport sector islandwide.

Before arguments for the injunctions were heard in chambers before Justice Lennox Campbell, attorneys for the OUR raised the preliminary point that the case against the body should be thrown out due to the recent move by the prime minister in June to remove the responsibility for regulating the transport sector from the OUR. Following responses from attorney Hugh Wildman, who is representing the claimants, Justice Campbell ruled against the preliminary point.

The court will on Thursday continue hearing arguments on the applications for the injunctions.

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