Transport and Mining Minister Hon. Mike Henry met with motorbike operators as well as other road safety stakeholders on a tour of Westmoreland and Hanover on Friday, January 20. Areas visited by the Minister included Orange Bay in Hanover as well as Negril, Sheffield and Little London in Westmoreland.

During the tour, Minister Henry also participated in an Outside Broadcast with POWER 106 at Orange Bay, Hanover.

The Minister used the opportunity to encourage bikers with whom he met, to be compliant with road safety regulations by wearing their helmets, ensuring that their motorbikes were licensed and insured and that they drive within the requisite speed limit. In commending the motorcyclists for the valuable taxi service they provided in the various areas, the Minister noted that he wanted to work with them to ensure that they add value to the transport system within the country.

For their part, the many bikers who turned out to meet with the Minister expressed gratitude for the interest he took in meeting with them. The forum provided them with an opportunity to outline a number of concerns they wanted the Minister to address. These include, the high cost of insuring their motorbikes; the state of the roads on which they operated; the high cost of retrieving their bikes from the pounds when they were confiscated; the fact that they were being asked to provide each pillion with a different helmet when they transported them, many of whom did not want to wear one that had already been worn by someone else; ladies not wishing to wear helmets to undo their hairdos as well as the high cost of procuring helmets. Some operators also asked the Minister to address the situation of bikes being imported with ‘blue lights’ and loud mufflers, yet they were the one asked to modify these when they purchased them since these did not accord with road safety regulations.

Describing his visit as a ‘fact finding’ one, the Minister thanked the operators for their candid discussions and promised to use the information gleaned to inform policy directives especially against a background where the Road Traffic Act is being overhauled and is currently being debated in Parliament.

Accompanying the Minister on the Tour were members of the Police Force, the Transport Authority, the Island Traffic Authority as well as officials from the Ministry.

The visit of the Minister to the west came on the heels of 379 persons being killed in motor vehicle accidents last year, a significant number of whom were motorcyclists.