Four buses were handed over to the Government Employee Transportation Project on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Works through the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC). The handing over took place on Friday, September 9 at the Ashenheim Road Bus Depot
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry noted that the buses being handed over represented part of the roll-out for the new national transportation plan. He said that he was happy to be part of this thrust even with the meager resources at his disposal. He said that his attention will now be turned to the Rural/Urban Transportation plan with the specific objective of addressing the needs of the rural areas. He hailed the efforts of all the stakeholders involved in the Project, in particular, the workers at the JUTC.
For his part, Minister with responsibility for the Public Service, Senator the Honourable Arthur Williams highlighted that the Government Bus Project has been around for 15 years and has been an important benefit to public sector workers. He went on to highlight the fact that the four buses will complement the existing nine on the 12 routes on which they now operate. He also touched on the touchy outstanding 7% owed to public sector workers saying that provision has been made in the Supplementary Budget for its payment in September. He expressed the need to look at other types of benefits for public sector workers, for example, an increase in the amount available for car loans. He also encouraged persons using the buses to treat them with care.
Also speaking at the handing over ceremony were Mr. Dennis Townsend, Chief Technical Director in the Office of the Cabinet who gave an overview of the Government Employee Transport Programme and Mr. Paul Abrahams, Managing Director of the JUTC who said that they were pleased to be a part of the Programme.
Responding on behalf of Public Sector workers was Mr. Oneil Grant, President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association. He used the opportunity to thank all the stakeholders who were part of the Bus Programme. He outlined the various benefits of having such a central system. Some of these he said were less traffic on the roads, less pollution and an overall reduction of the pressure on the public transportation system
The buses being handed over to the Transport Programme came out of an agreement between the government and Trade Unions as one of the staff benefits for public sector workers. Some 90,000 persons make use of the buses which operate in Kinston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas and parts of St. Catherine.