JIS News

Story Highlights

  • This became necessary after a traffic accident in the parish, which claimed the lives of four of the school’s students.
  • The service was initiated during the 2012/13 academic year in an effort to provide a suitable alternative for students.
  • Mr. Bailey said in moving to expand the bus service, every effort will be made to contract reputable drivers.

Principal of Holmwood Technical High School in Manchester, Paul Bailey, says the institution’s management will be moving to expand the bus service currently provided for students.

This, he contends, is necessary in light of Wednesday’s (September 25) traffic accident in the parish, which claimed the lives of four of the school’s students and injured approximately 30 others.

The four, three girls and one boy, included former National Under 16 netball representative, 15-year old Shakira Muschette.

Speaking with JIS News at the school on Thursday (September 26), Mr. Bailey informed that the service was initiated during the 2012/13 academic year in an effort to provide a suitable alternative for students encountering challenges commuting between home and school, using the public passenger system.

This endeavour, he explained, saw the school’s management contracting the services of two bus operators, who do not operate on the route.

“They (drivers) will come up (to the school with students) in the mornings, park the buses on the compound, then go back down (with the youngsters) in the afternoon. We hope to expand it this year, and based on what happened (September 25), we will have to expand it,’ the Principal stated.

Mr. Bailey said in moving to expand the bus service, every effort will be made to contract reputable drivers, pointing out that “these two that we (currently) have… so far, we have had no fault with them, they have been very, very good.”

“We hope to get quite a few more because it’s much safer (for the students). They (students) will not be exposed to all these loud and vulgar music and they will be much safer. This should go a far way in safeguarding students commuting to school,” he added.

Wednesday’s accident follows similar incidents in the 2011, where several Holmwood students died and others injured, and in 2012, when the institution, while recording casualties, was spared fatalities.

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) National Safe School Unit Coordinator, Sergeant Coleridge Minto, in addressing a special assembly at the school on Thursday, extended the JCF’s condolences. He indicated that the Police High Command and Traffic Division, “are treating this matter very seriously and will be addressing it in short order.”

“It is indeed a sad day, not just at Holmwood, but it is a sad day in Jamaica. Mothers are hurting, fathers are hurting, (and) children are hurting.  If you put that together, the nation is hurting,” he stated.

Sgt. Minto pointed out that the Safe School Unit is concerned about the safety and security of the nation’s children both within the confines of schools, as well as the manner in which they commute between home and the various institutions.

“The JCF is resolved and committed to ensuring that those drivers, who continue to breach the law and continue to accumulate tickets will be sought after and they will be brought to the courts and be dealt with according to the law,” he assured.

Chief Executive Officer of the Percy Junor Hospital in Spaldings, Clarendon, where the injured students were treated, Earl McLaughlin, lamented that the incident was a “very difficult…and dark day” not only for Holmwood, but also the hospital’s staff.

“For me, it was my second such occasion (experienced). Last year, (there was) almost the same numbers of casualties. But this year, it is worse, because we had four fatalities, four children,” he indicated.

Mr. McLaughlin pointed out that the occasion proved emotional for the staff as several of them were reduced to tears while attending to the injured youngsters.

“So, we just trust God and pray at this time for the comfort (of the bereaved) and I ask also that you also pray for us at the hospital as we continue to serve our people,” he said.