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NTCS bus owners march on lawyers' office - Big money squabble preventing payments - Attorneys ask for clear instructions

Published:Tuesday | July 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM

 Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Bus owners under the former National Transport Co-operative Society (NTCS) - the body founded by the late Ezroy Millwood - which was awarded billions for breaches of its transport contract in Kingston, yesterday marched on the offices of lawyers Bailey, Terrelonge and Allen, demanding payments outstanding since 2013.

The Sunday Gleaner on the weekend reported that an impasse among members was preventing payments to bus owners who operated under the NTCS franchise.

Alando Terrelonge, partner in the firm which represented NTCS in the local court, said the lawyers had no intention of keeping the money any longer than necessary.

"We have written to NTCS advising them that the payment was made by the Government, and that we are ready and willing to make their payment," Terrelonge told The Gleaner.

"(NTCS President Blossom Bailey) has indicated that there are certain internal issues which she needs to have sorted. She wants to have an internal audit, and she has indicated that a members' meeting would be called for next Sunday and she has asked us in writing not to make any payments until the members' meeting is called."

He said one executive wants payments to be made but the firm has indicated to the body that it "would not be dragged into their power struggle ... and we will only make payments if we have clear, un-ambiguous instructions in writing".

CONFLICTING INSTRUCTIONS

At the moment, he said, the firm had "conflicting instructions" but, according to him, the rift in the organisation has resulted in two camps on the board of directors.

"We don't wish to be dragged into their internal affairs, and we do not wish for anyone to use the lawyers, to make us compromise ourselves in terms of how the fund is handled. I went to a meeting last Wednesday with the treasurer and the president and I told them I am awaiting firm, written instructions," he explained.

He said the signatures of three of four signing officers were required on any new instructions and that has yet to come to the office.

Bailey has also asked that the lawyers cease making any further payout to the co-operative, said Terrelonge.

Following yesterday's march on his office, Terrelonge again reminded board officials that clear instructions must be had in writing.

The Gleaner has learnt that Bailey was ousted during a meeting this year but proper procedures were not followed and she was reinstated last month.

The NTCS sued Government for breaches of its franchise licence after its contract was cancelled in 1998, years before it was due to expire.

Government then took over the running of the public transportation system in the Kingston Metropolitan Region.

After a more than decade-long legal battle, which went to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, a ruling was made in 2009 in favour of the NTCS.

In 2013, the cooperative's founder, Millwood, died at his Red Hills home.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com