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LETTER OF THE DAY - Won't be fooled by bus protest gimmicks

Published:Tuesday | August 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Monday's bus fare protest led by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness is, in my opinion, reckless and without merit. It appears to be a desperate attempt to encourage civil disobedience rooted in demagoguery.

Nobody welcomes the prospect of any increase, regardless of the product or services offered. When placed in its proper context, devoid of politics, relative to the increasing operational costs currently confronting the JUTC, the fare increase is minimal.

It is understandable that some of our citizens will be challenged by the increase and will be upset with the prospect of paying more to use the transportation system.

However, there needs to be balance in our discourse if our objective is to improve our nation.

The JUTC has improved considerably from where it was just a few years ago. The safe and clean air-conditioned buses allow commuters to ride in relative comfort, a marked upgrade from the hot, unsafe, dirty buses of the past.

The paying commuters demanded the upgrade; the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) listened and complied. Facilitating that demand comes with a cost. It has to be paid for amid the rising cost of fuel, of which the Government has no control, in addition to the cost to repair and maintain the buses.

The Government has been subsidising the service. Given our fiscal reality, it is unreasonable and unsustainable to continue to subsidise the JUTC at the present level. That is Jamaica's reality.

I challenge Mr Holness to refute that argument. He knows the dire situation of our fiscal reality. It was he who infamously alerted the nation that 'bitter medicine' awaited us. For that same opposition leader to lead a protest against the relatively minimal fare increase is desperately disingenuous, demagogic, reckless and irresponsible.

Challenge to Mr Holness

If Mr Holness truly cared about the nation and the fiscal health of the JUTC, he should use his position to offer an alternative to the proposed fare increase.

The majority of Jamaicans are no longer easily swayed by political gimmickry. Mr Holness needs to understand that the political environment has changed. We may be economically challenged, but we are more sophisticated and educated. We understand the reality and can still tek sense out of nonsense.

To move forward requires collective sacrifice. This bus-fare increase is but only one of the sacrifices we will all be called upon to make. The country is progressing, slowly but surely.

As Lao-Tzu stated, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; and, I'll add that in order to achieve what we've never had, we've got to do that which we've never done.

Mr Holness, please recalibrate your thought process. The JUTC bus is moving forward. Get on board and stop playing politics with the country's future. That version of the game you are playing is outdated and is no longer supported by the Jamaican people.

JOHN LAW

bbuyaka@hotmail.com

Atlanta, GA