JIS News

A new Chairman and President for the state-run Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) are expected to be named soon, Transport and Works Minister, Michael Henry has announced.
Speaking at Tuesday’s (July 1) sitting of the House of Representatives, Mr. Henry said interviews are currently being conducted for both positions, and new appointments “are likely to be in place soon.”
The position of Chairman became vacant, following the shooting death of Douglas Chambers on June 27. He had held the position for the past nine months.
Mr. Chambers is credited with implementing initiatives, which have reduced monthly averaging between $140 million and $150 million over the last nine months, to approximately $70 million at present. This, Mr. Henry noted, without an increase in fares, a limited fleet of buses, and with skyrocketing fuel prices.
In paying tribute to Mr. Chambers, Mr. Henry who has assumed responsibility for the JUTC, said the late Chairman had taken on the challenging responsibility of leading the entity’s Board, which was mandated to “identify and root out the corruption.” These, the Minister said, were known to have become entrenched in the entity’s operations during its 10-year existence.
Measures implemented, which Mr. Henry said were aimed at improving operational efficiency, include: rationalizing the workforce, and reducing wastage of resources by stemming the longstanding drain on company finances, amounting to millions in lost revenue daily, through illicit means.
Minister Henry said the late JUTC Chairman had also sought to assess and implement corrective measures in the “mysterious, wide-scale allocation” of routes to taxi and bus operators in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), for which the bus company held an exclusive operating license.
He said Mr. Chambers focused on the greater good of Jamaica over the self-serving and “greedy positioning of persons intent on maintaining systems which facilitated ill-gotten gains,” at the expense of the company and taxpayers.
“He committed to the use of his outstanding accounting, auditing, and analytical skills to direct the re-shaping of the company towards viability and efficiency, from the illegal feeding tree it had become. This was the kind of corruption which Douglas was up against in the JUTC. That was the monster which he tried to tame. And succeeding he was, so much so that life became very treacherous for him,” the Minister told the House.
“In seeking to break down and gradually relieve the company of such ills, he, unfortunately, paid the ultimate price, which those who offer such (public) service should not have to pay,” the Minister lamented.
Mr. Henry was quick to point out, however, that not all employees of the JUTC were involved in illicit and corrupt activities, and commended those who remained dedicated to the efficient operation of the entity.
Noting that the JUTC represented a “critical plank” in Jamaica’s national transportation network, Mr. Henry said the Government was committed to continuing the reformation programme commenced by Mr. Chambers.
“It is planned for the company’s entire fleet to gradually become a cashless system, with efficiency and dignity of travel being hallmarks of the public transportation experience,” Mr. Henry said.

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