JAM | May 3, 2023

Woeful vision ‘killing Jamaican transport sector’, says Phillips

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Traffic flow at the intersection of Contant Spring and Half-Way-Tree roads in Kingston. (Photo: Inter-American Development Bank)

Mikael Phillips, the People’s National Party (PNP) Opposition Spokesperson for Transport, is singling out that bad policy, political interference and lack of vision as primary reasons why Jamaica’s transport sector continues to cripple the country.

He made the claim during his contributions to the 2023-2024 Sectoral Debate on Tuesday afternoon (May 2), where, according to him, the vision of an efficient and safe transport system created some 20 years ago under the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), is no longer present, and Jamaica is now back to a “ramshackle transport system.”

“A new direction is badly needed to take Jamaica’s transport sector forward to achieve global standards. Any transport study will tell you that governments give public transport the same priority as all other societal functions because it is a reasonable reflection of the overall society and can influence the priorities of the country. Public transport must have sustainability, values, benefits, and capacity,” said Phillips.

He then stated that a five to 10 year plan is needed to restore the vision of a safe and efficient JUTC.

In the eyes of the shadow minister, the plan must involve all players in the sector together, representing the JUTC, taxi associations, Transport Authority, police, private sector and the Government.

(Photo: Become Nomadic AF)

“Everyone must be at the table presenting their inputs and developing this plan, that no matter which administration comes to office, there will be a road map to an improved if not ideal national public
transport sector for the country,” he explained.

He further noted that sufficient infrastructure is also needed to properly manage the 300 per cent increase in hackney carriage drivers.

In 2016, there were 2,000 hackney carriage licenses, and by 2022, the number climbed to 7,000 in Kingston and St Andrew alone.

“Most hackney carriages now operate like route taxis contrary to their licenses. There are limited parking locations providing a safe environment for operators and commuters in the process of picking up and setting down, poor governance from the regulator, and little or no policy direction from the government on the crisis,” said Phillips.

Mikael Phillips, the People’s National Party (PNP) opposition spokesperson on transport and mining. (Photo: Facebook @JamaicaPNP)

He then urged the Government to rationlise the system urgently.


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