JIS News

Critical to the productivity and development of any economy, is the existence of an efficient, affordable and predictable transportation system, said Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill.
The Transport Minister, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, stated that the government was committed to providing such a system for the Jamaican people.
Part of the process includes the construction of a world-class transportation centre in Half-Way-Tree, on which work has already started. “When the transportation centre is completed… it will be the final link in the transportation system, having already provided the best in buses – Benzes and Volvos, articulated and bi-articulated – for the elderly, for the physically challenged; single-operator buses, and even executive buses,” he outlined.
Providing an update on work being carried out at the site, Minister Pickersgill disclosed that “some start has been made, but by the end of next month it will become much more obvious.”
He further informed that currently, excavation work was being undertaken, as well as the installation of perimeter fencing and the construction of a site office.
Construction of the transportation centre, which will extend over a 30-month period, is being funded through a 54.5 million Euros (US$71.3 million) soft loan from the Belgian Government. The loan is 80 per cent interest-free and the Government has been given up to ten years to repay.
The facility, once completed, will be able to accommodate approximately 64 buses on two levels, one for incoming buses and the other for outgoing buses.
Highlighting the need for the hub, Minister Pickersgill pointed to the difficulties and challenges being faced by the approximately 200,000 commuters, who converge in Half-Way-Tree and are not only left to the vagaries of the weather, but also experience inadequate bathroom facilities and inefficient operations by the bus companies.
The Transport Minister asserted that by creating a “modern transport centre with the required facilities to accommodate commuters comfortably and enhance the operations of the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) and other buses” the government would alleviate the stresses and rigours of public transportation and in so doing, make the travelling public more at ease.
Minister Pickersgill also pointed to recent changes to the public transportation landscape including the introduction of route taxis, which has made the process of travelling much more attractive.
“Commuters are able to select their mode of transportation. It is becoming of course, very competitive, so monitoring is of the utmost importance”, he said, adding that the Transport Authority would be beefed up in terms of its inspectorate.