JIS News

Following Tuesday’s meeting between Minister of Transport and Works Hon. Mike Henry, and taxi operators, a Help Desk, dedicated solely to the Road Maintenance Fund, has been established at the Ministry of Transport and Works.
Minister Henry made the announcement at Wednesday’s (April 29) weekly Post Cabinet Press Briefing at Jamaica House.
He described the meeting with the taxi operators as amicable and successful. The Minister said that the operators were mostly cooperative, as he explained the need for the $8.75 gasoline cess. He confirmed that the cess will be dedicated to enhancing the Road Maintenance Fund and, given budgetary restraints, will be important to keeping the roads maintained.
Both parties have agreed on a committee to monitor the funds, and for members of the taxi associations to serve on this committee. The Minster also announced that he will be having meetings with the taxi operators every six months in the future.
Acknowledging that factors such as bad road conditions also impact on their (taxi operators) operating costs, the desk will facilitate calls aimed at reporting roads in need of repairs, and other complaints.
“The desk has been established for the Road Maintenance Fund, so that the taxi operators can feed into it, providing information, as it relates to what they come across, so that I can begin to feel the real purpose of the dedicated fund, which is to increase the community road development, the interior roads and, of course, reduce the cost of their operations,” Mr. Henry noted.
The Road Maintenance Programme is to reduce the stress on vehicles and, by extension, reduce operating costs. Costs presented by the operators were largely repair related, he said.
The Minister gave no guarantee of a fare increase. He said a total analysis of the cost of transport was necessary. The analysis is also necessary before an increase of fares on Jamaica Urban Transit (JUTC) buses, he said. Taxi operators were last granted a 25 per cent increase in fares in June 2008.
“I have advised them that if, indeed, this is going to affect their cost of operating, the Government will not remove the process by which they can apply for an increase,” Mr. Henry said.
“If they feel that there is an area with an increase in cost, they should justify that with an application: Send it to me for processing, I will examine it and pass it on to the OUR, which will recommend to me what to do. We will never take away your right at any time to apply or to review,” he added.
Mr. Henry urged taxi associations to begin to efficiently organise their records and overall operations, in order to begin to ascertain the true costs of their business.
In the meantime, the Minister said that he will be examining some of the requests made by the operators at yesterday’s meeting. The requests relate to the fees paid to the Transport Authority and health form inspections, among others.
The taxi operators also requested that they be allowed to renew fitness certificates with the Island Traffic Authority(ITA) once yearly, instead of twice. Taxi operators pay to have their fitness renewed yearly by the Transport Authority and half yearly by the ITA.

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