JIS News

The Transport Authority intends to work more strategically, with less of a “big stick” approach, in regulating the public transportation sector, says Transport and Works Minister, Hon. Michael Henry.
“When you get rid of the bad weeds, you have less rugged policing to do among the operators remaining in the system, who will gradually realise that public transportation is a business like any other, in which your standards of service and efficiency need to be of foremost consideration,” he asserted.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate, in the House of Representatives, on September 15.
Mr. Henry said significant changes have been made to the Authority itself, with more to come. These include a change at the administrative helm, with a new Managing Director in place, and a clear mandate to forge a more effective discharge of the authority’s regulatory and licensing responsibilities.
“In response to that directive, the Authority has developed strategic goals to guide its performance in pursuit of its mandate of developing a modern, safe, reliable and sustainable public passenger vehicle transportation system,” the Minister said, adding that this signals that the Government intends to make good strides in respect of the work of the Transport Authority.
“Thus, we embarked on a series of community consultations earlier this year. The consultations are intended to generate public feedback on the work of the Authority, so that these can be factored into consideration towards any necessary changes to the regulatory and licensing arrangements in place,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) has been engaged in a process of transformation into a more modernised entity, with the Road Traffic Act presently under review. The final preliminary drafting is expected to be completed in a matter of weeks, the Minister said.
“Since the installation of its new Director in May 2008, over 30 changes in practices, operation and procedures have been instituted. These changes have resulted in more discriminating testing procedures, improved service delivery, reduced processing time at motor vehicle examination depots, less frustrating delays, increased enforcement activities, and more vehicles being taken to the depots for fitness certification,” Mr. Henry told the House.
Among the new measures is the training of police officers in sign language, to enable them to process the driver’s licence applications for the hearing impaired.
For this fiscal year, the Ministry plans to establish at least one modern vehicle testing facility within the Authority, fully equipped with high-technology diagnostic equipment. “When the Authority is equipped with this facility, motor vehicle inspections will be more thorough and objective, and greater integrity will be returned to the process,” he explained.
Turning to road safety, Mr. Henry informed that while the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry has collaborated with the Island Traffic Authority and the Jamaica Constabulary Force to have the Road Traffic Act enforced, the Unit has noted greater need for enforcement of the Protective Devices legislation. This, as many drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, and pillion riders are not wearing the appropriate protective devices.
“Despite our best efforts, the ‘Below 300 Project’, aimed at recording less than 300 lives lost to traffic crashes this calendar year, is now under serious threat,” he said, noting that up to September 14, a total of 237 lives were lost to crashes.

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