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Story Highlights

  • Scores of school children in the parish of Clarendon are benefiting from the Government’s Rural Safe School Bus Programme, which has been put in place by the Transport Authority (TA).
  • Speaking at the official launch of the programme, in May Pen, today (February 25), Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, said the initiative is significant for the safety of children.
  • While lauding the different agencies for their efforts to implement the system, he said the Clarendon Parish Council must be commended for taking such an interest in education.

Scores of school children in the parish of Clarendon are benefiting from the Government’s Rural Safe School Bus Programme, which has been put in place by the Transport Authority (TA).

Speaking at the official launch of the programme, in May Pen, today (February 25), Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, said the initiative is significant for the safety of children.

While lauding the different agencies for their efforts to implement the system, he said the Clarendon Parish Council must be commended for taking such an interest in education.

“It is very important that we ensure that our children are safe all the time, but especially when they are on their way to, and from school,” the Minister said, noting that his Ministry is open for ideas to expand the system.

“Through creative thinking we can provide a worthy service which allows our children to move safely with some level of comfort. My Ministry will work with the relevant partners in providing safe transportation for all our children (in) school,” he added.

The Minister told the gathering that while private bus operators can participate in the school bus programme, they must adhere to strict codes put in place by the TA to prevent child predators from being in a system geared at protecting children.

“We want to be certain, not only in terms of how the vehicle is handled and the safety in terms of observance of traffic rules, but also that there are no predators on these buses carrying the children. Owners and operators are going to be screened to eliminate such a possibility,” Dr. Davies emphasized.

In September 2014, the TA and the Clarendon Parish Council embarked on the implementation of  a safe school bus system, and a pilot project organized for the town of May Pen, and now expanded to other parts of the parish. Along with the Ministry of Education, the other partner in the project is the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Scean Barnswell , said the programme has helped in the attendance of children, and parents have confidence in the system.

“Students are now benefitting from lower fares and  travelling in comfort. There is also restoration of discipline – no more loud and lewd music, no careless and reckless driving and bus operators are now more courteous,” he noted.

For his part, Councillor for the Denbigh Division, Joel Williams, who represented Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Mr. Mike Henry,  said the  initiative has helped  to ensure that while “we are at home or at work, we can feel much better, knowing that our children are travelling in a better transportation system.”