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The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) on September 7 received a donation of 10 brand-new Volvo buses, valued at approximately $300 million, in support of their crime fighting efforts.

The buses, which will be distributed equally between the two entities, were provided by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC). They were officially handed over by the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, during a ceremony at the JUTC’s Spanish Town Depot, in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine.

Among those in attendance were: Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting; Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Antony Anderson; Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington; Managing Director, JUTC, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin; and JUTC Board Chairman, Rev. Garnett Roper.

Dr. Davies informed that the buses are from a recent shipment of 230 new units from Belgium, which were ordered by the previous administration. He said the JUTC continues to have a strong partnership with the members of the security forces and is committed to supporting their crime fighting efforts.

As such, he said that the recent proposal for members of the JCF in uniform, or with identification, to be allowed to ride on JUTC buses free of charge, has been approved.

Also, the Transport Minister informed that five additional buses will be transferred to the Montego Bay Metro Bus Company in St. James, which currently has a fleet of eight buses. "This will significantly boost the number of buses," he remarked.

The Security Minister expressed gratitude for the donation, stating that the buses will go a far way in improving the mobility of the forces.

He noted that the JCF is in need of up-to-date vehicles, as the current fleet mainly consists of older model vehicles in need of servicing.

He said that currently, the JCF fleet had a total of 1,834 vehicles, consisting of 28 different brands, and 909 different models. He noted that this arrangement is a “logistical nightmare for fleet management”.

"Ten per cent of this fleet is recommended for board of survey, and a further 20 per cent are unserviceable or awaiting very serious service or repairs,” he stated, noting that only 331 of the vehicles are three years old or less.

"Now, bear in mind that a police, or an army vehicle, is not used similarly to a domestic or civilian type of operation. It is literally on the road or on call 24/7. (For example) we have Amarok pick-ups, which were acquired just before the Elections, and when they go in for servicing they already have in some cases 60 or 70,000 kilometers, depending on the unit that vehicle comes from,” he pointed out.

"What it tells you is that having a vehicle that is older than five years makes absolutely no sense. It is a very inefficient way to manage a fleet, because there are costs of servicing and repairs when a vehicle has so many miles on it. It is just inefficient and wasteful,” he argued further.

To address the situation, the Minister informed that the JDF and JCF have partnered and will be embarking on a study, which will assess the needs of both entities over the medium to long-term, to see to specific mobility needs. From this exercise it is expected that they will develop a rational fleet structure.

“We are looking towards not only rationalising the fleet procurement, but also coming up with a joint maintenance facility,” he said. “Therefore, within a structured purchasing programme over a five-year period, we would be able to have an appropriate mix of general purpose vehicles – common models, makes, shared between the JCF and JDF,” Mr. Bunting said.