Minister without portfolio, (Housing), Hon. Dr. Morais Guy addressed a large number of persons associated with several taxi associations from all over the island on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston.

The meeting was the latest in a series of meetings between the Minister and members of the transport fraternity, in particular, taxi operators. This, in an effort to iron out several issues between the Government and the various operators.

Speaking at the function, Minister Guy said that the socio-economic impact of public land transportation on the movement of goods and services and ultimately production, made periodic assessments of the system necessary. He said that this would allow for the correction of deficiencies and the implementation of strategies to improve the overall efficiency, safety and service standards within the sector.

The Minister highlighted the fact that there were three areas which were critical to the functionality and viability of the public transportation system. These he named as : efficiency, safety and service standards. Strategies to achieve these objectives according to Minister Guy, included:

1.     Training and Certification of Public Passenger Vehicle Operators

2.     Integrated Monitoring Mechanisms

3.     Strengthening of the Licensing & Legislative Framework as well as the Regulatory and Monitoring ability of the TA and

4.     The Rationalisation of Route Taxi Associations

Concerning the Training and Certification of PPV’s, it is being proposed that there be the introduction of mandatory training for all public passenger vehicle operators in the sector. This would be a joint training programme between the Transport Authority and the HEAR TRUST/NTA; upon completion participants will be issued permits which are similar to the identification cards currently being used by Hackney Carriage operators.

In terms of the Integrated Monitoring Mechanisms, an integrated monitoring mechanism is being proposed to include the courts, Transport Authority, the Police, the Island Traffic Authority and Tax Administration.

As for the strengthening of the Licensing and Legislative Framework, a number of things are being proposed. These include:

1.     Extensive review of the Transport Authority and Road Traffic Acts to provide the appropriate recommendations

2.     The administration of a national feasibility survey in order to make strategic decisions regarding the development of the public transportation system, assess the demand and supply on all established routes and introduce new routes as is necessary

3.     The implementation of a suspension and revocation policy for recalcitrant drivers

4.     The introduction of the requirement to provide proof of address for all applicants for road licences, permits and badges

5.     The re-introduction of via points on route taxi licences.

Under the rationalization of Route Taxi Associations, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing will be implementing a rationalization programme of all 51 Taxi Associations over the next 4 months. The recommendation is also being given to Associations whose membership falls below a certain number, to merge with others or dissolve. Another proposal was to establish a cap on the number of Associations per parish. These will be based on the : population of the parish; number of members in the Association; the geography of the parish and the efficiency of the Associations operations relative to office facilities. An upper limit of $6,000.00 is also being proposed for dues charged by Associations.

Other persons speaking at the Meeting included: Ms. Petra-kene Williams, Mr. Dwight Brown who offered prayers and presentations by several executives of Taxi Associations from all over the island.