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Girl injured as vandals stone buses for a second day

Wednesday, April 09, 2014    

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A 10-year-old female student was hospitalised yesterday after vandals pelted a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus in Stony Hill, St Andrew.

The child was hit in the forehead by a stone and also suffered bruises and cuts from splinters of a broken window.

One man has been taken into custody in connection with the incident.

Yesterday morning's attack was one of several that took place between Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

Thugs have been stoning JUTC buses since the company announced that several franchise routes would be taken over by the company in a bid to bolster the profit margin of the financially strapped public transportation company.

Managing Director of the JUTC Colin Campbell told the Jamaica Observer that buses were attacked in Portmore, St Catherine, Duhaney Park, St Andrew and Stony Hill.

There have been a total of 18 cases of vandalism between Monday and Tuesday which have cost taxpayers an estimated $2.5 million, a release from the JUTC said last night.

"This morning (yesterday) two buses were stoned in Stony Hill. One of them had a glass hit out. In the other, an articulated bus, a stone went right through. Last night (Monday) two buses were stoned on Molynes Road. One windscreen was broken and there was body damage to the other one. There were three incidents in Portmore where [there was] body damage and a broken windscreen on the other," Campbell said.

Since the attacks started on Monday, all the buses have been repaired at significant cost to taxpayers. Campbell, however, warned the vandals that they were in reality destroying their own property.

"Every single one of them have been fixed and those buses will be back on the road tomorrow (today). It didn't cost me personally a dollar. It cost the taxpayers money. Because the taxpayers own the buses, when they are damaged taxpayers have to fix them; those of us who pay GCT or work and pay PAYE (Pay As You Earn) it is your money that goes to fix those buses," Campbell said.

Yesterday, police arrested seven men who were driving around in a Toyota Caldina motor car with gasoline and other items that they believe could be used in attacks against JUTC buses in Duhaney Park.

Campbell said the main perpetrators of vandalism against the State-owned transportation system were persons who stood to lose from the take-over of the previously sub-franchised routes as the company had seen increased revenues in the few days that the company had been operating without the sub-franchise operators.

"We used to make $800,000 daily before. Yesterday we made $1.8 million on the number 32 route. It's all about the money. The vandals seem to be working for the bus owners," he said.

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