Transport Minister Slams New Wave of Attacks on JUTC Buses


Transport and Works Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, has blasted a new wave of attacks currently unfolding against the new, yellow coloured buses being operated by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC).
Three of the units have been damaged to the tune of almost $1 million since mid-last week, including an act of arson on one bus. Approximately $7 million worth of damage was recorded against the company’s fleet in an earlier series of attacks, since the introduction of these new buses in February.
Two of the attacks last week involved the stoning of buses in the Eastern Kingston area, including Mountain View Avenue, resulting in damaged windshields, which each cost close to $300,000 to be replaced.
The act of arson took place last Friday on the MeadowbrookHalf Way Tree route, where an old JUTC bus was destroyed by fire in April. Unlike then, Friday’s incident was captured on camera by the surveillance system on the new, high-tech JUTC bus that was targeted, resulting in the police now being actively in search of the perpetrator.
The surveillance system showed a young man entering the bus, with a bag, in the Chancery Street area of Meadowbrook. He took one of the extreme back seats, where he travelled without incident for some time before checking around to ensure that enough passengers had disembarked and he was alone to the rear of the bus.
The young man, who was clearly identifiable on the surveillance tape, then took out a large piece of cardboard, which had been folded in his ‘scandal’ bag, and was seen using a lighter with exposed flame and a candle in the back seat of the bus. Shortly after, he disembarked from the vehicle at a stop close to the Half Way Tree Transport Centre.
The bus arrived at the Centre without any alarm being raised, but the first passenger to board it detected the fire, which was put out by the driver with the use of a fire extinguisher. The remains of the burning cardboard and the candle were found behind the back seats of the bus after the fire was extinguished. The damage was estimated at over $400,000.
Earlier this year, a similar incident took place on one of the new JUTC buses in the Half Way Tree Transport Centre, with the unit being likewise damaged by fire behind the back seats. The Fire Brigade confirmed that arson was the source of that blaze, which resulted in approximately $550,000 in damage.
Following that incident, there was a series of unprovoked attacks, mostly via stoning, of JUTC buses across the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), resulting in approximately $7 million in damage, overall. Only one person, a bus driver, was injured by glass splinters in the process, because the attacks were apparently designed more to intimidate the bus company and disrupt its operations, than to cause injury to anyone.
Mr. Henry, in declaring a broadside against the acts of intimidation, said the evidence that had been gathered on camera, “demonstrated in no uncertain manner, the wanton disregard for law and order and lack of civility with which we are faced.”
He called upon the judiciary to make an example of anyone who is caught and convicted of perpetrating these dastardly acts of aggression against the JUTC buses. He also suggested that such persons should expect nothing less than “a very long time out of the society to ponder both the folly and low-mindedness of their actions.”
“We have been through this before and we will go through it again, if necessary, as we will not allow a few sick minds, for whatever misguided reasons, to derail the progress of the public bus service. No way!” declared the Minister.
Minister Henry stressed the high-tech security elements of the JUTC service, which, for example, allowed for the perpetrator to be detected on Friday.
“The JUTC offers safety, comfort, style and dignity of travel, all at very affordable rates, which we need to fully embrace, instead of seeking to derail…for the life of me, I just can’t believe how some people can be so insensitive, not to understand that the national well-being is at stake here,” he said.

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