Mon | Dec 5, 2016

$20-million JUTC tanker stuck in idle

Published:Monday | January 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

NEARLY SIX months after spending more than $20 million to purchase its own fuel tanker, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) still does not have the use of the vehicle.

JUTC boss Colin Campbell confirmed yesterday that the fuel tanker has been parked at the state-owned bus company's Ashenheim Road depot in St Andrew while the necessary regulatory approvals are obtained and drivers recruited.

"We haven't put it in service yet … . [It takes] a lot of things … to put a fuel tanker on the road," he reasoned.

However, Campbell said the vehicle should be in operation by month end and would help the cash-strapped bus company improve on fuel security and reduce the cost of transporting petrol to its three fuelling stations.

"We move 15 loads of fuel every week, so now we will do that ourselves," he disclosed.

The JUTC managing director pointed out that the tanker is the largest in the country and said that presented several challenges.

In addition, he said the bus company had to ensure it was in compliance with all the applicable regulations to operate the tanker.

"So we had to change the loading bays, we had to go through the regulatory compliance, and we had to go through the Island Traffic Authority," Campbell explained.

He said, however, that everything is now in place, and all that's left is for the JUTC to complete the recruitment of the drivers who will operate the tanker.

NO FARE ROLLBACK

Campbell has revealed that there will be no rollback in bus fares, despite falling petrol prices locally.

Since last June, petrol prices have fallen by nearly 25 per cent.

Last week, the JUTC announced that it was analysing falling fuel prices to determine if the savings were enough to give commuters a break.

"The savings does not merit anything like a rollback," Campbell said yesterday, while indicating that this would be his recommendation to the JUTC Board of Directors.

Economist Ralston Hyman had warned last week that reducing bus fares because of the falling fuel prices would be "penny wise and pound foolish".

Hyman said despite slashing its losses from $200 million to $50 million per month, the JUTC was still not in a position to reduce bus fares.

"They are still making significant losses, so they would still have to go back to the public for more money to fund their operations, so that wouldn't be a sensible move," he argued.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com