Clarendon school bus system expanded
Scores of schoolchildren in 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, Clarendon, last Wednesday, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies said the initiative is significant for the students' safety.
While lauding the various agencies involved for their efforts in implementing the system, Davies singled out the Clarendon Parish Council, commending them for taking 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, adding 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," he said.
Davies told the gathering that while private 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 getting into the system.
"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," he emphasised.
In September 2014, the TA and the Clarendon Parish Council embarked on the implementation of a safe school bus system and a pilot project was organised for May Pen. That has now been expanded to other parts of the parish. The Ministry of Education and Jamaica Constabulary Force are partners in the project.
Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Scean Barnswell, said the programme has helped to improve children's school attendance, adding that parents have expressed confidence in the system.
"Students are now benefiting 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.
Councillor for the Denbigh division, Joel Williams, who represented Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon 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".