Mon | Jan 23, 2017

Papine bus breached licence

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

We appreciate the gender issues that arose in the reported case of a bus conductor refusing to board a female commuter because her destination was the Family Court, where he feared she was heading in furtherance of a complaint against a man.

But to focus solely on this big idea of male chauvinism and relative distribution of power, as has been the case thus far, risks the discussion missing a small, but critical matter, which is important to fixing some of the problems that have not been inappropriately identified. We refer, in this case, to the enforcement of laws, something at which Jamaica has not been particularly good.

First, buses and other forms of public transportation in Jamaica are regulated by the Transport Authority (TA), from which their owners have to acquire route licences that establish their scope of operations. In some cases,

privately owned buses in the greater Kingston region are subfranchisees of the state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC).

Except in the most extreme of circumstances, we believe, would these licences permit discrimination against any commuter, and certainly not on the basis of gender, or the reason for which a bus crew presumes the commuter may be travelling. In that respect, we believe that by refusing to allow the woman on board, the operators of that Coaster bus in Papine would have breached their licences.

not too late to act

It is unfortunate, in the event she didn't, that the victim of this act of discrimination didn't report the matter to the TA forthwith in search of redress. But with the issue in the public sphere, it is still not too late for the Transport Authority to act.

Indeed, its inspectors are plentiful on the ground, including in Papine, and we would be surprised if they did not immediately know of the incident and identify the bus involved, or if they would have any problem doing so. The bus operator and the crew should be appropriately disciplined, which should include suspension, if not revocation, of their operating licence.

The point here is that while it might take time to overturn the socio-cultural baggage that made that act of chauvinistic insensitivity possible, the process can be helped along by doing small things like enforcing the law. For the change that we hope for is learnt behaviour, and in business, nothing drives learning more than things that impact the bottom line.

At the risk of being accused of wasting time on a trifling matter, we wish to add our two-pence - or should that be farthing - to the Lisa Hanna bikini debate. It's, well ... trifling.

That a 40-year-old woman who can still wear bikini bottom and body-hugging T-shirt does so on a beach, then posts the picture on her Facebook page, is no big thing - even if this woman happens to be a Cabinet minister. It is long since the bikini has been de rigueur for the beach. Further, there was nothing overly revealing or inappropriate, for the occasion, about Ms Hanna's attire.

By the way, if Ms Hanna was frumpy at the beach, it wouldn't translate to better policies or superior management of her ministerial portfolio, which we suspect to be among the subliminal trigger of the discomfiture with Ms Hanna's beachwear. It may have reminded some people, too, that they have not worn as well.