Shaw awaits proposal from disgruntled drivers
Taxi operators staying off the job in downtown Kingston on Monday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

TRANSPORT Minister Audley Shaw says he is still awaiting proposals from route taxi operators to assist his ministry in making a submission to the Cabinet in helping them to pay off millions of outstanding traffic tickets.

"I met them on Tuesday and they are supposed to be coming new proposals on how we can assist them to meet their debts," Shaw told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine on Thursday.

"I told them to send me their proposals and I will submit them to Cabinet for discussions, but I am still waiting to hear from them," the minister continued, noting that he had heard that there were drivers with hundred of thousands in unpaid tickets.

Taxi operators in Kingston and St Andrew withdrew their services on Monday, in what was intended to be a three-day strike. They were seeking an amnesty for unpaid tickets.

Audley Shaw

President of the Transport Operator Development Sustainable Service (TODSS) Egerton Newman said that there were a number of issues affecting them, some having to do with government policies, financing and their call for a ticket amnesty, which have converged to the point where they feel that a total withdrawal of their service would effectively demonstrate their point.

"Enough is enough. We cannot take it anymore," Newman said in a five-minute voice note he released on Monday, during the strike.

He described a gas assistance programme announced by Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke as a political stunt, claiming that most of those who applied for the subsidy were rejected because of their licence issues.

"It is regrettable from all directions that the minister of finance would make such an announcement, that he would be giving the transport sector $600 million in grant facilities for their challenge in buying fuel. To date, since that announcement was made, less than 2,000 persons received that $25,000 grant," he noted.

Newman confirmed that a meeting was held with Shaw and a team from the Ministry of Transport and Mining and the Transport Authority on Tuesday, which helped to ease the tensions left over from Monday's strike. He also thanked the leadership of the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO), the One Voice, and the Hackney Carriage Federation for their support.

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior writer

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