JUTC blamed for Jasmine Deen disappearance
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is being blamed by the head of The University of West Indies’ (UWI) Disability Centre for the disappearance of the 22-year-old visually impaired student Jasmine Deen, who was reportedly waiting at the school’s pick-up spot for more than an hour for a state-run bus almost two weeks ago.
It is alleged that Deen, an international relations major at the university, had been standing at the bus stop, near the school’s Irvine Hall Gate from 8 p.m. on February 27. At 9:16 p.m., she was led into a taxi by a nearby fruit vendor.
“The problem that we had the other day is that having completed her studies on campus, she went outside to take the public transportation to go home and the public transportation system failed her,” said Floyd Morris, an opposition senator who is blind.
“It wasn’t the university; it is the public transportation system that was not available, whether it be the taxi or the JUTC buses. I also understand that JUTC buses were out there but they said they were not running,” he added.
Safety and security continues to be a major concern at the eastern St Andrew campus, as just yesterday, a female student of the university also boarded a PPV taxi on Hope Road, heading to The UWI, when the driver turned down the hill towards Golding Avenue where he reportedly brandished a knife and held it at her throat before physically assaulting her.
The student, however, managed to wrestle free of her attacker and escaped with bruises, the police reported. She was later taken to the Mona Police Post where she made a report.
In response to Morris’ comments, JUTC Communications Manager Cecil Thoms told The Gleaner yesterday that the bus company has an early cut-off time of 9 p.m. because of the volatility of crime-plagued August Town, a neighbouring community.
When The Gleaner informed Thoms that Deen had reportedly been standing at the bus stop from 8 on the night of her disappearance, he said that the delay might have been caused by a breakaway in August Town that had slowed its fleet in the area.
“There is, in fact, a breakaway in August Town that has caused a longer-than-usual wait period. The breakaway has been there since 2017 or 2018 and, as a result, most of our units have had to be doing a double loop, which makes the distance that much longer.
“I cannot say with great certainty what would cause the issue here in terms of a bus not showing up over that period, but I can say we are having a meeting with UWI tomorrow (Tuesday) to iron out as best as possible some of the issues and see how best we can improve our service,” Thoms said.
When asked if special transportation would be made available for disabled students in the wake of the Deen saga, Morris said that visually impaired and otherwise abled students do not require pity, but a consistent environment that will allow them to participate just as anyone else.
“I have been saying that not because Jasmine has gone missing means that we are going to venture into a pity party for students with disabilities, because students with disabilities don’t want pity.
“Once we operate an office for special student services is to assist with the learning of students with disabilities, but when it comes on to transportation, it is the same services that are offered to non-disabled students that is offered to disabled students,” Morris said.
The Mona police are still investigating the disappearance of Deen and yesterday’s attempted abduction.