JIS News

The Government has cut planned importation of new buses from Belgium in 2010/11 by 50%, but the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is expected to fill a large portion of the gap with newly refurbished buses.
The 2010/11 Budget which was tabled in Parliament on Thursday (March 25) by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon Audley Shaw, states that Government is to spend $6.5 billion during the year to purchase 100 buses for the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), which provides public transportation in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region.
Speaking in the debate on the 2009/10 Supplementary Estimates a week earlier, Mr. Shaw noted that the original plan was to import 200 of the air conditioned buses from Belgian firm, VDL Jonckeere. However, because of economic constraints, he said that half the amount would be imported this year and the other half in 2011/12.
But, JUTC spokesman, Reginald Allen, told JIS News that the 50% reduction this financial year would not seriously hamper the company’s service, as at least one bus per week would be delivered from the rehab centre at Ashenheim Road, Kingston, in addition to the 20 already on the road.
He said that the company was in the final phase of discussions with Brazilian company, Incavel Omnibus E Pecas, which is able to refurbish the old buses and add air conditioning. A team from Brazil is expected in Jamaica by next week to complete discussions on a possible contractual agreement.
The JUTC now has over 600 buses, some of which are slated for disposal as scrap metal. With the addition of 200 new units between 2010/11 and 2011/12, plus the possibility of the reconstruction of 150 of the older units, the JUTC, through increased numbers and improve fleet reliability, would be significantly closer to being able to fully deliver on its original mandate.
The Budget also shows that $1.5 billion has been set aside, from the special consumption tax on fuel, to finance the Road Maintenance Fund (RMF) during the year. The funds will finance islandwide infrastructural improvements.
In addition, $1 billion is to be spent on the Palisadoes Shoreline and Road Project, to make the corridor less vulnerable to flooding, while protecting the Kingston Harbour from storm surges and ensuring that citizens have reliable access to that roadway.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for April 20, 2010, and 60 per cent of the revetment works are to be completed during the new fiscal year. The project is jointly funded by the Government of Jamaica ($110 million), and People’s Republic of China ($890 million).

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