Renewal fees for route taxi, hackney carriage, rural stage carriage, and contract carriers of public passenger vehicles have been slashed by 30 per cent for a period of one year.
The announcement was made yesterday (March 16) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as he made his contribution to the 2023-2024 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.
Holness said the reduction in fees is in an effort to support members of the transportation sector.
“This incentive is given to allow operators to regularise themselves and avoid tickets. During this period the Ministry of Transport and Mining has been directed to establish an updated database of all operators,” said Holness.
Under the Government’s CARE programme, the Government sought to cushion the financial effects of the pandemic.
The prime minister shared that J$300 million was awarded to more than 9,000 operatiors. However, some operators were unable to benefit due to a lack of registration or incomplete registration. The cutting of fees will provide additional support, said Holness.
Road traffic training for operators
In an effort to create safer roads, Jamaica established a new Road Traffic Act on February 1. The new fines and regulations featured in the Act led to protests by taxi operators who complained that the fees were too high and insufficient time was given for them to clear outstanding tickets and acquaint themselves with the new laws.
“While the transport sector is largely a private operation, there is a significant public service they provide and this Government is willing to work with our transport operators in meaningful ways to address their issues and improve their conditions. In the coming weeks, I will be arranging consultations with the various taxi groups to further explore their concerns,” said Holness.
He added that the Government will aim to improve the quality, service and awareness of drivers and will be introducing a short course for all public passenger vehicle drivers. The courses will focus on the new Road Traffic Act, defensive and courtesy driving techniques, maintenance and sanitation procedures for vehicles.
In addition to new road traffic regulations and fines, the Government established an E-ticketing system to issue tickets and an online portal where motorists can go to view their outstanding tickets and pay their fine without going to the tax office. The course will also help drivers establish bank accounts and digital wallets, as well as provide assistance with the use of digital payment technologies.
All drivers who register and complete the course will receive a J$25,000 grant. Motorcyclists who register and complete the course will also receive helmets valued at J$10,000 free of cost.
The programme will be administered by the Island Traffic Authority in collaboration with the Heart Trust NSTA.
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