Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
A 43-member road-management team established last year by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) as part of its quality assurance and revenue protection programme has been scrapped by the new managing director of the bus company, Colin Campbell.
"The unit served no useful or strategic purpose. It served no proper purpose in the company," Campbell told The Sunday Gleaner as he responded to criticisms over his action.
The unit had been established last December by then managing director of the JUTC, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin.
The members of the unit were mandated to board buses and check that all passengers had valid tickets.
The unit also had the authority to pull buses from one route and direct them to another, based on demand.
But Campbell said the unit, as was constructed, was of no benefit and the saving was not worth the cost.
"They carry out 2,000 or 3,000 checks for the month and give me 15 infractions.
"Fifteen infractions is $1,500. I cannot have 43 people working (on) something that saves the company $1,500. It doesn't make sense. There is no cost saving there," argued Campbell.
According to Campbell, individuals who formed the team are to be reverted to their former positions.
He dismissed claims that the unit was disbanded because allegations were made that the majority of the team members were supporters of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party.
"I don't know who they were. I don't know what political party they support. I inherited them. What I have to assess is that one, the unit was to provide service quality, and two, to help with revenue protection," said Campbell.
Not firing team members
He also dismissed reports that the members of the unit could be on their way out of the company as their posts had been filled.
"Everybody in that road-management unit was acting on a temporary basis because the positions were not approved by the Ministry of Finance. We could not, therefore, appoint people in their positions," said Campbell.
He said the previous managing director wanted to make sure that service was available, working with 200 buses, while he now has 400 buses to work with.
According to Campbell, instead of the road-monitoring unit, a beefed-up revenue-protection unit monitoring centre is to be effected which will also have responsibility to protect the JUTC franchise as well.
However, this beefed-up centre will not have a quality-assurance function as part of its remit.
The recently appointed managing director said it was his responsibility to halt the bleeding taking place at the bus company, which loses more than $140 million annually.
Among the problems facing the company is transport operators working illegally on its routes and that is one problem the new unit is expected to address.
"The kind of poaching that I have to guard against is the kind that has buses coming in from the country, letting off passengers at the main thoroughfares, and working within the JUTC franchise area throughout the day and going home.
"That is robbing the company money. That's what I have to protect," stated Campbell.
He told The Sunday Gleaner that he takes his responsibilities seriously because billions of dollars of taxpayers' money are invested in the bus company.