PUBLIC passenger vehicle (PPV) operators are to benefit from a 30 per cent reduction in renewal fees for a year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced on Thursday during his presentation at the 2023/24 Budget Debate in Parliament.
"This incentive is given to allow operators to regularise themselves and avoid tickets," Holness said.
Additionally, the Government will be making 10,000 helmets available, free of cost, to motorcycle drivers who take a short course for all PPV drivers designed to improve service quality, behaviour and awareness. Also, "all drivers who register and complete the course will be formally certified and receive a $25,000 grant from the Government", Holness said.
He argued that an efficient and orderly public transportation sector is not only critical for the development of any well-run society but is also essential for the daily lives of Jamaican citizens.
The Government's vision, he said, is to have a professional transportation sector that is operated with pride, with investors and operators being the strongest advocate for order and high-quality service.
"I know there are a significant number of transport operators who view public passenger transport as a formal business. However, too many operators see it as a hustle," Holness said. "We want to assist our transport operators to create a real industry out of public transportation. I have heard the voices of our public transportation operators and I am convinced that there is a critical mass that share this vision to develop a first-world public transportation sector."
He said the concerns in the public transport sector are varied and include the rising expenses that they are faced with, the need to access affordable financing to retool, and issues relating to appropriate places to stop, disembark and take on passengers.
"Some have expressed to me that they have no special facility for health insurance or pensions. While the transport sector is largely a private operation, there is a significant public service they provide, and this Government is willing to work with our transport operators in meaningful ways to address their issues and improve their conditions," the prime minister said, adding that in the coming weeks he will be arranging consultations with the various taxi groups to further explore their concerns.
He said that during the one-year period of the reduced renewal fees, the Ministry of Transport and Mining will establish an updated database of all operators.
He explained that the short course for PPV drivers will be administered by the Island Traffic Authority in collaboration with the Heart Trust/NSTA.
"Drivers will be invited to register for the course focused on the new Road Traffic Act, defensive and courteous driving techniques, maintenance and sanitation procedures for vehicles, assistance with establishing bank accounts and digital wallets, and the use of digital payment technologies," he explained.
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