Montague to put brakes on illegal transport operators

Senior staff reporter

Friday, February 08, 2019

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Transport Minister Robert Montague has issued a warning to the approximately 14,000 illegal operators in the public transportation sector that the Government will be clamping down on their activities this year.

“This year is the year of the robot operator; you're going to get my full attention. And I've already written to the minister of justice, because my mission this year is to make operating as a robot so expensive that you become legal,” Montague told the inaugural transport stakeholders conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.

He said that of the 44,000 operators plying routes across the island daily, 30,000 are licensed.

“Right now the transport industry is being judged by the worst in the industry… it is not right, it is not fair that you ask persons to invest in an industry, license themselves, obey the regulations, and then we turn around and put the pressures of Jesus upon them. And then you have some other persons, while you're pressuring the legal man, him just drive past and do anything him want to do,” Montague added.

Meanwhile, the Transport Authority is seeking to devise a reporting system, in partnership with the insurance and banking industries, which will ensure that once a person is convicted in court for operating illegally the insurer/bank will be advised and result in PPV rates being applied to the individual's policy.

The minister said a report would also be made to the Island Traffic Authority that the individual has been operating outside of the terms of his driver's licence.

“That recommendation came from a consultation that we had with insurance companies and the financial sector,” head of public relations at the Transport Authority, Petra Keane Williams explained to the Jamaica Observer. “Once the vehicle is seized, we would contact the insurance company or the financier — the law actually says if you're found operating without a road licence, that vehicle is to be kept until you apply.”

Also, Minister Montague said discussions are under way with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) for additional sub-franchising of routes in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), where, he said, some 200 sub-franchises are still available.

“We know that the JUTC right now cannot treat with the KMTR… the JUTC is to roll out 420 buses per day; we are rolling out an average of 390, so we are about 30 buses short on a daily basis… we can't just open up the KMTR and destroy the JUTC, because the Government has invested a whole lot,” he stated.

He emphasised that the Government wants to improve the image and the operations of the public transportation sector which, over the years, has earned a negative reputation due to rogue operators and the “hustling” approach to the business.

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