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JIS News

Hackney carriage and Route taxi operators have lauded efforts by the Government to include them in the discussions regarding proposed changes to their operations, when the Kingston Transport Centre (Downtown) commences operations early next year.
This follows their participation in two stakeholder meetings held by the Transport Authority in collaboration with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), on November 23 and November 24, to inform them of proposed changes.
In an interview with JIS News, President of the Jamaica Association of Hackney Carriage Operators, Willard Costley, said the meeting allowed them to discuss key issues, which might have otherwise been overlooked.
“It is a good way forward and I can see the vision. However, there is a lot more to be done as it relates to Hackney Carriage. I also accept the fact that the Transport Authority now recognises the importance of Hackney Carriage and is apparently moving to streamline and give us our space within the market,” he said.
Mr. Costley said that some issues would require further discussions, including the designated parking areas under the new arrangement.
Highlighting the linkage between the Kingston Transport Centre and the Downtown Kingston Redevelopment Programme, Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the UDC, Lorna Clarke explained that it is part of a larger plan to re-energise the business district, commercial and marketing centres and rebuild the townscape.
This, she noted, has already begun, with the Digicel headquarters being relocated in downtown Kingston. Plans are also afoot for the relocation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to downtown Kingston; and the development of a Festival Marketplace.
Meanwhile, Mr. Costley noted that the move to redevelop downtown Kingston will prove “extremely beneficial to members of his association.”
In his comments, El Shaddai Taxi Service representative, Ludlow Mclean, also praised the move by the Authorities to meet with the Hackney Carriage operators.
“We are happy for a forum of this nature, as it gives us a better perspective of what is going to happen, as it relates to the plans for development and for transportation,” he said.
Route taxi operators, while appreciative of the forum, expressed concerns about routing and security issues for both operators and commuters. They were assured that all concerns regarding adjustments to routes will be duly examined and resolved, where possible.
Responding to security concerns, Senior Superintendent of Police, Devon Watkis said that issues regarding commuter and driver safety were duly considered.
“We want to assure you that during the planning processes, this issue was considered. We have developed a deployment plan that will ensure that the presence of the Police is constant and that the response of the Police will be available in the event there is a need for them to respond to a complaint,” he said.
He informed that a police post is being established at the Transport Centre, which would be sufficient to deal with the concerns mentioned.
Managing Director of the Transport Authority, Daniel Dawes told JIS News that he was pleased with the outcome of the meetings.
“The Transport Authority cannot treat with its mandate of licensing, regulating and monitoring the operators within the sector without partnering with all of our stakeholders. We would want to know that all the players are a part of the arrangement,” he said.
Stakeholder consultations are to continue in the coming weeks, Mr. Dawes pointed out.
Participants in the sessions included representatives from the Jones Town, All Island United Route Taxi, Maxfield Park and the Waltham Park Associations. Hackney Carriage operators included private operators as well as representatives from the Blue Diamond, Apollo, Nice and Easy, and El Shaddai Taxi Service.