As the school year gets under way today, head of the Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, is urging parents to ensure due diligence is taken before utilising the service of private taxis to transport their children to and from school.
Lewis made the call against the background of a recent incident in which he said an alleged child rapist was caught transporting schoolchildren while operating a private passenger vehicle.
"They must do the necessary checks. Just recently a man was held by the traffic division and that man committed three cases of rape on students in the Portmore area before he ran away. He was later caught in Kingston driving mini-bus and taxis with students before he was held and handed over to the Portmore police," he said.
Lewis added that as more and more parents turn away from the public transportation system, they should be careful not to drop their guard when it comes to seeing to their children's overall safety.
"They must get the particulars of the vehicle, get the particulars of the driver, and get the particulars of the owner to make sure that the person transporting their children is somebody who is not of questionable character," Lewis urged.
In the meantime, newly installed president of the National Parent Teachers' Association of Jamaica, Everton Hannam, told The Gleaner that the national parenting body would be engaging the Transport Authority and the police to negotiate a range of new initiatives to ensure the safety of children as they travel to and from school.
"Security as it relates to the transportation of our students is an area that is going to come under intense scrutiny from our parents," Hannam said. "There are two aspects of it that we are going to address and these include both the proper use of the road by operators when transporting our children, as well as checks on the persons who carry our children."
He added: "We cannot just leave it up to the parents to decide who transports their children. We want to ensure that any engagement parents enter into, due diligence is done by the police and the Transport Authority and recommendations are made to us."