Minister of Transport and Mining, Lester “Mike” Henry, is intensifying his deliberations with stakeholders of the Public Transport System in order to resolve some longstanding issues.
He met with the leadership of NCOTA and Route Taxi Associations from Trelawny, St Mary, Portland, St Thomas, St and St. Elizabeth at his Maxfield Ave Office on Wednesday, March 15.
High on the agenda was an application for a fare increase, following the recent increase in gas tax and other related motor vehicles services provided by Tax Administration of Jamaica.
However, Minister Henry outlined a number of initiatives that his ministry is pursuing to improve the conditions under which private public passenger operators conduct their business. These include: a joint approach with the Minister with responsibility for roads to improve their conditions, the definition of a taxi, charges for sub-franchising, colour coding for license plates and safety of taxi and mini-bus drivers.
According to Minister Henry these issues along with a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the increase in the gas tax and other related motor vehicle services must be completed before any recommendations can be made to the OUR to approve an increase fares. Minister Henry says he has a responsibility to balance the total cost of operations with the ability of the passenger to pay. He gave a commitment to the operators to complete a series of meetings with all the stakeholders in the shortest possible time. However, he says the issues which are directly under his remit will be dealt with immediately.
For example, he has given instructions to the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) to accept seven-seater vehicles that the insurers have approved for full coverage of all passengers. This, after taxi operators complained that the ITA is refusing to provide fitness certificates for seven–seaters despite the provision of full coverage from the insurers.