Justice minister fingers PNP for JUTC overstaffing

Friday, October 13, 2017

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JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck said yesterday that the previous People's National Party Administration is to be blamed for employing the approximately 300 extra staff at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), which is costing taxpayers $25 million per month.

“...I have no fear in telling you they were brought in for political reasons because these people 'need a work', and so they were brought for political reasons to work at JUTC,” the minister said during his address to the Rotary Club of Kingston at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

According to the justice minister, his disclosure was based on information he received, which was also corroborated by JUTC Managing Director Paul Abrahams' declaration that when he left the State-owned bus company in 2012 there were only 1,780 people on staff. The current staff complement is 2,250.

“The truth of the matter is that it's costing the Government a lot of money — $300 million unnecessary funding per month — and a decision has to be taken; but it's for the JUTC board, as it's not a political decision, it's an economic decision which must be taken,” Chuck said.

The minister, who was speaking about garrison phenomenon in the island and how political decisions have stifled development in those communities, said that a similar case can be argued in relation to the Housing Agency of Jamaica project in Luana, St Mary, which started with the JLP in 2008 and was continued by the PNP.

“In far too many Government projects politics play the major role in how it's developed, how it is executed, and that is why you hear the prime minister yesterday (Wednesday) complaining about housing project. A one bedroom [was] built for $2.1 million, and over the last two years it continued.. but those same [type of] one-bedroom houses... were built at $11 million and had to be sold for $4 million.

“It is quite clear to me that we have to take a serious stance and demand that good judgement, good sense, must take priority over political judgements and how things are done for primarily political reason,” Minister Chuck said.

The startling revelation regarding overstaffing at the bus company was made by officials of the transport and mining ministry during a sitting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament on Wednesday.

Abrahams, while pointing out that the company had too many employees, explained that international benchmark is a ratio of 2.5 drivers to one bus and five staff to one bus, which means the JUTC, should be in the region of about 800 employees.

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