350 taxi and bus operators to be trained as first responders
Come August, 350 taxi and bus operators across Jamaica will be trained as first responders and road safety ambassadors under the Transport Operators Blue Ribbon project.
President of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Egeton Newman, said the project is a game-changer and is the first step in transforming the sector.
“For too long, Jamaican people have been seeing the public transportation sector with a negative eye. We want to change that perception,” he reasoned during this morning’s stakeholder meeting at the Half Way Tree Transport Centre.
Taxi associations within parishes are charged with selecting the 25 participants and operators also have the option of volunteering themselves to receive training.
It will cost just over $500,000 to train each group.
“It will be an ongoing training as the first phase will finish in August of this year and right after we will start the second phase,” Newman said, adding that workshops have begun in St Thomas.
In his remarks, minister of transport Robert Montague said he was in full support of the project as taxi and bus drivers often serve as ambulances when accidents occur on the road.
“This Blue Ribbon first responders training is a good step. I am pleased, I am happy for it and I support it and I want to see it expanded,” he said.
British Caribbean Insurance Company Limited (BCIC) is the main sponsor and the association is seeking to have other partners on board to ensure that there is no financial gap.
The insurance company will be offsetting 75 percent of the training cost for each parish and has committed to branding the vehicles once certification is complete.
As an incentive, participants will also be offered discounted rates and access to a special package tailored for the project.
Victoria Mutual Pensions Management (VMPM) will also be providing training in financial management, as the goal of TODSS is to have a greater portion of operators prepared for retirement.
“Less than 10 percent of the Jamaican working population contributes to a pension plan. We want to organise the taxi operators in such a way that they move from being unbanked to being banked,” CEO of VMPM, Conroy Rose, remarked.
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