Phony preachers ... a constant curse on JUTC buses
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is struggling to enforce its rule of no preaching on its buses, and this is being compounded by fears that some of the preachers are really tricksters.
"Some of these persons are not even real Christian preachers. A lot of them are just hustlers," said head of the JUTC's Franchise Protection Unit, former Senior Superintendent of Police Radcliffe Lewis.
"We have had reports of quarrels and even fights on buses by persons who call themselves preachers," added Lewis, as he explained: "One person believes that the other shouldn't preach on a bus because this is his bus, and this is where he makes his living preaching for money."
According to Lewis, sympathetic passengers are also making life hard for the JUTC enforcement officers who are trying to clamp down on so-called preachers who use the bus passengers as congregations.
Lewis said while preaching on public buses is illegal, enforcement officers are often lambasted by passengers when they try to reprimand offenders.
"The passengers say we are ungodly, they call us atheists, they say we are unholy. Some passengers are genuinely annoyed by the preachers but there are others who curse you out and tell you that you should leave them alone," Lewis told The Sunday Gleaner, as he reiterated the illegality of the practice.
"It is illegal and they can be charged. Any tambourine or loud noise in public-passenger vehicles constitutes improper conduct on a PPV and they can be charged," warned Lewis, as he noted that the fine extends from a minimum of $2,000.
The JUTC executive said while there have been no charges initiated against these preachers, dozens of persons have been warned by JUTC enforcement officers who patrol the buses on a regular basis.
"What they (preachers) don't understand is that some persons find it very annoying, very offensive. Once you are in the bus and the windows and doors are closed you become a captive to those persons," said Lewis.
"We have WiFi on the buses and some people want to use it to study and so on, but they can't. Some people complain that when the people are preaching over them it is like rain is falling," he said.
Lewis said that most of the complaints about the preachers come from routes leading from Spanish Town and Portmore to the Corporate Area. These include that the number 23, 21, 17A and 20A routes.