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  • Environmentalist, Peter Espeut, is recommending the implementation of a rapid mass transit system as a more sustainable means of transportation.
  • Mr. Espeut noted that apart from the mass transit system, policies should be established that “penalise people for using their cars when they could take public transport”.
  • The forum was held under the theme: ‘Economic Development and the Environment: Jamaica at a Crossroad’.

Environmentalist, Peter Espeut, is recommending the implementation of a rapid mass transit system as a more sustainable means of transportation for Jamaicans, particularly those residing in Portmore, St. Catherine.

Rapid transit is a public transport system in an urban area with high capacity and high frequency, which is fast and segregated from other traffic, and includes rail transportation.

Responding to questions posed during a policy forum hosted by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) at the institution’s Old Hope Road premises in St. Andrew on October 11, Mr. Espeut argued that mass transit will also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the environment.

“The present transportation system is very unsustainable. You cannot have more and more cars crowding onto the same road system, producing more greenhouse gases, carrying one (or) two persons when it’s possible to have rapid transit systems. For example (in) Portmore, why has the rail link not being put into Portmore? That would carry vastly more people than the one-one minibus can carry. This is where policy development is important. Why have we not developed a mass transit system that makes the number of motorcars less?” he questioned.

Mr. Espeut noted that apart from the mass transit system, policies should also be established that “penalise people for using their cars when they could take public transport”.

Citing England as an example, the Environmentalist noted that strategies are enforced to ensure that citizens and visitors utilise public transportation, which is cheaper and more environmentally-friendly.

“England…has a tax on motor vehicles going into the city. If you enter the city, immediately, the cameras pick up your licence plate and you are charged because they want people to go into London using public transport,” he noted.

Mr. Espeut also pointed to the need for more sustainable housing solutions, suggesting the construction of more high-rise buildings to save on land space and accommodate more people. “This is applying technology to the problem of sustainability,” he stated.

Urging the Government to “set the parameters for sustainable development in the country, Mr. Espeut said, “you’ve got to say, you cannot discharge this amount of pollution in the environment, you cannot build in such a way as to be unsustainable in the process and you’ve got to decide what sort of sewage technology we are going to use in the country.”

He pointed out that the implementation of critical regulations/legislation such as the building code, effluent discharge standards, among others, are also critical to the process.

The forum, held under the theme: ‘Economic Development and the Environment: Jamaica at a Crossroad’,  featured presentations from: Director, Environment and Risk Management Division, Ministry of Land, Environment and Climate Change, Dorlan Burrell; Vice President at Scotia Investments, Jason Morris; and Consultant, Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Elizabeth Emanuel.

The policy forum was designed to stimulate public awareness of issues of national, regional and global importance, and provided an avenue for the exchange of information, which results in an improved quality of thought and behaviour change.