JUTC resumes service in violence-ridden August Town
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has resumed transportation services to August Town, St Andrew, after receiving reassurance that the area is now saturated with the security forces.
On Monday, the state-owned bus company had suspended its services following the murder of 35-year-old correctional officer David Stewart and the wounding of two others in the community.
"We discontinued the services on Monday because of the violence in the area and the fact that it wouldn't have made sense to put the lives of commuters at risk when there is ongoing tension," Cecil Thoms, JUTC communications manager, told The Gleaner yesterday.
"Part of our standard operating procedure as of now is whenever there is any heightened tension, we will temporarily withdraw some of the buses that go to that particular community and would terminate in Papine Square, relatively nearby."
"We resumed services yesterday at 9 o'clock in the morning and we have not had any reports that suggest that people can't get buses. As far as I know, things are back on track, unless we are otherwise told by the police that it is unwise to go back there, because this is the second time in three weeks that we would have done this because of a flare-up."
Councillor for the Papine division, under which August Town falls, Venesha Phillips, said that prior to the resumption of the service, she had been receiving numerous calls from residents who work outside the community, expressing concerns about reaching home.
SECURITY FORCES OVERWORKED
Seeking to reassure residents and other stakeholders that the police and military have gained a handle on the ongoing violence, operations officer with the St Andrew Central police, Superintendent William Kesler, said that despite being overworked, the security forces have upped the ante in ensuring calm in the community.
"We have a very strong team in now, and we will have a strong team later. Most of the shootings we have are during the day. The nights are well saturated with police and soldiers. We have to step up our patrolling in the daytime, even though the men are overworked in the nights. But we have to find some way to control that," he said.