Ministry uncovers road licence scam

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Ministry of Transport and Mining has uncovered a scam in which unscrupulous individuals have been charging unsuspecting applicants up to $200,000 to process road licences since the opening of the transport liberalisation pilot last Monday.

Portfolio minister Robert Montague launched a public transport liberalisation pilot project, which he said will result in the opening of 1,260 routes across the island, 100 spaces on select Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) sub-franchise routes and the offer of hackney taxi road licences to the market on September 10.

Under the pilot, the additional routes, which will include 996 taxi routes and 264 rural stage carriage routes, will be opened for a 12-week period ending November 30, 2018.

Additionally, the Transport Authority will consider applications for hackney carriage service in St James, St Ann, Westmoreland, Trelawny, and Manchester.

“Since (last) Monday we have discovered something... that as much as we have said that we have opened up and we are accepting applications, you have middlemen that suddenly start up, who are charging people all $200,000 for a licence and telling people that they have to apply through them (middlemen). Transport Authority don't have to see them (applicants)... they must apply through them (middlemen), as agents, and they must pay $200,000 to them and they will apply on their behalf and give them the licence,” Montague revealed.

He, instructed applicants to apply for their road licence, without an intermediary.

“... Nothing nuh guh so! It is $15,000 for your licence. Go to the Transport Authority and apply for yourself. You don't need no middlemen; you don't need no lawyer; you don't need nobody to talk for you,” the transport minister said.

He was speaking at the Ride Jamaica Awards Luncheon and Grand Launch in Montego Bay, St James last week Thursday.

Ride Jamaica is the first mobile app-enabled taxi service to be launched in Jamaica. It has been operating in Montego Bay for the past three years. It is the only company that manages local, Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA), Jamaica Co-operative Automobile Limousine Tours (JCAL), and MAXI taxi operators across the region.

The company operates segments, including Ride Jamaica International, Ride Jamaica Local, Ride Jamaica Kids, Ride Jamaica Corporate, and the Ride Jamaica Host Agency.

With a mission to modernise the Jamaican transportation system, the company unveiled its new app features, new driver tools, and new passenger tools, while celebrating drivers, customers and the future of transportation in Jamaica.

“Ride Jamaica... was founded because of several needs that existed. On the customer side, there was a need for a greater level of safety and convenience in the transportation system, particularly in Montego Bay. From the drivers' perspective, there was a need to offer a more professional service that was in keeping with international standards. And more peculiar to Montego Bay and the western region was the tourism sector, in which there was also a grave need for equity in the distribution of rides to independent drivers,” the company's CEO, Dr Shaun Jones, explained.

“The primary objectives of the company were to make passengers safer and to represent the needs of drivers. Over the last three years we have made much progress in achieving these objectives and in furthering the mission,” he said.

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