Minister without portfolio (Housing) in the Transport, Works & Housing Ministry, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy says he is somewhat surprised at statements coming from Member of Parliament for North East Manchester Audley Shaw concerning the implementation of a rural school bus system.

The Minister says that contrary to statements by Mr. Shaw that the Government has scrapped plans to implement such a system in the rural areas, the Ministry is actively pursuing this development in the transport sector. According to him, a committee, headed by JUTC Chairman Rev. Dr. Garnet Roper has been formed to examine and implement such a system.

He explained that during the tenure of the last administration, 230 buses were purchased, 100 of which were supposed to have been part of a pilot school bus project in Clarendon. That system had it been implemented in that format, was expected to result in significant losses which would have meant added pressure on the public purse hence the Government’s abandonment of those plans, the Minister noted.

Since then, however, a broad based Committee consisting of the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing, The Ministry of Education, The Ministry of Local Government & Community Development, the Transport Authority, among others, has been formed to examine the modalities and type associated with the implementation of such a system. This is with a view to ensuring that rural students are able to be transported in a style similar to their urban area counterparts.

Additionally, the Minister says a Request For Proposal (RFP) concerning procuring Consultancy Services for the development of the system was advertised in the newspapers recently. Bids were opened in January and an award will be made shortly. In the meantime, the Committee continues to meet to ensure that the system that will ultimately be implemented, will be cost effective, efficient and safe.

In the meantime, the Minister is expressing regret at the accident in Manchester which resulted in the injuring of a number of students from the Holmwood High School last week. He says the Ministry is looking at strategies to address the driving habits of mini-bus drivers, especially those transporting children to school. To this end, he says, these are some of the areas the Transport Authority has been tasked to address with the soon to be implemented policy.