New vehicles to boost efficiency at Customs
State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Rudyard Spencer commissioned into operation six new vehicles for the Jamaica Customs Agency to enhance its effectiveness in carrying out its mandate.
The vehicles include three Nissan Frontier purchased at a cost of $4.4 million each, a Toyota Corolla ($3.485 million), a Mitsubishi 10-ton body truck with lift gate ($9.378 million), and a Toyota 30-seater Coaster bus ($10.2 million).
The commissioning of the vehicles has been seen not only as an investment in the agency, but also as a critical step in enabling the workers to function in a comfortable work environment while being effective.
According to the agency, the Mitsubishi truck will be used to transport furniture, equipment and warehouse goods, including seizures made by the Contraband Enforcement Team. The Nissan vehicles will be used to patrol and inspect containers on the ports, while the bus and the Corolla vehicles will be used to transport staff and undertake general administration duties.
At the commissioning ceremony, which took place at Customs headquarters in Kingston last Friday, Spencer said he was pleased about the level of work the agency has undertaken in order to ensure that employees can carry out their functions.
"As a former trade unionist, I am always one to champion the cause and rights of workers, for them to receive the necessary resources, compensation, and work facilities which cater to their health and well-being," he told a gathering of customs workers and stakeholders of the function.
"Sometimes we tend to focus mainly on results and not on the process of getting those results."
He said he was well aware of the daily challenges that civil servants face as they function in the workplace, but urged that the staff of Customs accept the vehicles as an incentive for giving back a full day's work.
Spencer lauded the agency for making the effort to ensure that the physical environment and worker productivity are enhanced.
The minister heaped praises on Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reese, who he said was instrumental in the effective management and development of the agency over the years.
"In addition to ensuring that the agency meet or surpass the revenue targets set by the finance ministry, the commissioner has ensured that the employees operate in a work environment that caters to their well-being, thus allowing them to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively," Spencer said.
Reese told The Sunday Gleaner that he was very pleased about the developments in the agency. He echoed Spencer's sentiment by saying that the agency's staff will be more effective in carrying out their duties.
In the meantime, Spencer said that it was clear to him that Jamaica Customs was moving in the right direction. He said other public-sector entities should emulate the agency for an overall better operation of the Government.
"Those who can afford it should. Those who cannot afford it should strive to reach there," said Spencer.
While promising to make a fulsome statement in Parliament soon, the state minister disclosed that the Government was far advanced in modernising core ministries.
The agency also spent some $6.752 million on a canteen, $11.061 million was spent on paving a 1,400-square metre area, and some $13.691 million was spent on the conversion of a container.