Roper blasts JUTC drivers
Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
Drivers of Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses have been rapped by Chairman Garnett Roper, who has blamed some of them for trying to "re-entrench disorder and chaos" on the roads and engaging in misconduct bordering on sabotage.
Roper made the declaration during a JUTC staff meeting yesterday in the wake of recent incidents of driver fraud and a record number of accidents in October.
"We sometimes wonder if it is a form of petit marronage, to seek to bring down the bus company from within. For what reason would workers in the company tamper with the tachometer on buses that are governed to go at a speed of no greater than 65kph in the city, and allow them to travel at a speed of 120kph, except to turn the buses into murder weapons?" he said.
"We can only pledge the determination of the board and the management to stamp out indiscipline. We also solicit the assistance of the public to tell the company what they see on the roads," said Roper, while emphasising that the majority of drivers employed to the bus company were honest and hardworking.
There were 113 accidents involving JUTC buses in October, 25 per cent more than the average of 90 crashes per month reported by Roper in September.
He further noted that management believed it was not beyond the JUTC to build a culture of safety and for its drivers to become the standard-bearers by which all motorists are judged.
clamp down on fraud
Roper also charged that the company would be relentless in its drive to clamp down on fraud, which has accounted for millions of dollars being fleeced.
A SmartCard audit carried out last week revealed that drivers and other employees had breached the cashless system and stolen millions of dollars. Roper told The Gleaner yesterday that since the scam was uncovered, bus revenue has risen by $3 million a day.
At least 75 drivers have been fired this year, the majority for pilferage.
"The JUTC has been the feeding tree for the dishonest for too long in its short history. We have had to put in systems to protect the revenue and property of the JUTC. There has been the stealing of fuel, batteries, tyres, spare parts and, of course, the cash resources of the company. We are not willing to create a space or a haven for dishonest people," said Roper.
He also stated that the company was at an advanced stage in the implementation of an automatic vehicle locator system in order to ensure reliability and predictability in bus schedules for the entire commuting public within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region and other areas covered by JUTC service.
"The company is putting itself in a position to know where every bus is at any given moment and at what speed it is travelling and whether it is on schedule. Just as the operation of the company is time governed, so it is seeking to provide a platform for the city to operate on time and within time," Roper said.