Transport operators who ply both city and mainly rural routes float the law with impunity, knowing clearly there is likely no sanctions to be taken against them. For example quite visibly written in this red and white Toyota minivan/ bus is a sign stating that the seating capacity is twelve (12). This was being violated. I took this van and despite my protest, nothing was done to correct same. In fact I was verbally abused and told I was ” mentally deranged” among other degrading comments.
The operator in question who drives this minivan “forced” nineteen (19) of us who were crammed like sardines in his minivan/ bus with a stated seating capacity of 12 as indicated above. A clear violation of the rules and or regulations. A semi- autonomous body (Transport Authority) is charged with governing the transport sector. A regulated state entity under the Ministry of Transport. This Ministry is headed by Hon. Robert Montague. Montaque has publicly blasted those who are undisciplined in the sector.
Ironically, there is a transport authority office well staffed at the Transport Centre, at Barnett Street, Montego Bay, where the buses and Taxis load and unload their passengers. What is the role of the Transport Authority Inspectors in uniform? Is it just to give the impression regulation is taking place? Or just to keep up appearances?. We saw at least four on our visit on Wednesday, August 4, 2018 at about 4 PM. Collecting user fees, although vital cannot be their sole function. The level of supervision leaves much to be desired as observed by me. Other commuters were upset at their poor treatment by this operator.
This incident of overloading the vans, taxis and buses has been a long standing plague affecting the transport sector. This sector is known for indiscipline, thuggery and other forms of antisocial activity. The failure to wear uniforms, not completing routes and not stopping at designated stops as regulated are among the other persistent complaints. Overcharging commuters and failure to close vehicle doors, mainly the bigger buses and reckless driving by run gosling to get passengers have proven to put passengers and other road users’ lives at risk for injury, if not death. Despite this wanton indiscipline the rate of fatal crashes appear to be relatively low in this sector.
We will do a full up with reactions from stakeholders and officials in the transport sector later as a follow up.
Pictures attached/sent before of one of the offending minivans in the problem plagued transport system in Jamaica, W.I.(a red and white minivan) that plies between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
The government has an official/formal bus system, but private operators make up about 75 percent of the seats in the Island wide transport system especially in the rural areas.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.