Sun | Nov 17, 2019

$30m spent to repair vandalised JUTC buses in a year

Published:Saturday | October 12, 2019 | 12:09 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

Taxpayers have forked out at least $25.9 million since October last year to carry out repairs on 98 buses operated by the cash-strapped Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) due to vandalism.

Of the 98 buses, 18 sustained damage to the windshield, 53 had side glasses smashed, 15 had door glass shattered, and the rear glass on 12 was vandalised.

In August 2017, the JUTC reported that there had been more than 70 attacks on buses up to that point for that year, and according to state-owned bus company’s communications manager Cecil Thoms, the situation has not changed.

“Stoning of the JUTC buses is still of great concern to the company as it affects our daily operations. When a bus gets damaged and is out of service, it affects revenue, and the already diminished fleet is under more strain to provide service to our valued commuters.

“Additionally, stoning is a dangerous activity as it may cause injury to the driver or passengers,” he told The Gleaner, adding that the “majority of these incidents happen under the cover of darkness”.

Thoms said the bus company was still seeing its vehicles being attacked in a number of areas, including Bowerbank, Duhaney Drive, Mountain View, Windward Road, and Harbour View – all located in Kingston and St Andrew.

He said similar incidents have also been reported in the Waterford and White Marl communities of St Catherine.

A section of Golding Avenue near to the Irvine gate of The University of the West, Mona, in Eastern St Andrew was also identified as a problem area.

People’s National Party caretaker for the constituency Venesha Phillips is calling for perpetrators to stop.

“As with any other type of disorderly behaviour, I would ask persons engaged in this type of behaviour to desist from doing it. It is not a solution to any problem. If there are issues to be resolved with JUTC in terms of their operations – regardless of what it is – certainly, you can reach out to me or others who are able to impact the situation,” said Phillips, who is also councillor for the Papine Division.

She added: “But damaging the very bus that you will need to transport you, and at a cost to us as the political leadership? I mean, disorder is never the way to deal with any kind of problem or disagreement or dissatisfaction that you may have with the system.”

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com