The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and the Transport Authority (TA) were the two Agencies featured in the latest of the monthly Press Conferences held by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

Various projects and programmes being undertaken by both entities were discussed. In the case of the Port Authority, the privatization of the ports was the major project dealt with.

The strategic objectives of the privatization were highlighted as follows:

·         Upgrade and expand the Port to take advantage of opportunities created by expansion of the Panama Canal

·         To improve the operational efficiency of the KCT

·         To utilize the public-private-partnership model to mitigate fiscal risks to the GOJ and leverage private sector financing to further expand/develop KCT

·         To attract Foreign Direct Investment and

·         To ultimately create additional skilled jobs for Jamaicans.

The transaction structure being proposed is the landlord model where the PAJ will retain ownership of the land while offering a concessionaire the option to develop the superstructure and infrastructure and operate the Container Terminal.

A limited tender approach is being pursued which will target the top 22 global Terminal Operators which together account for 75% of global market share. The opportunity will also be extended to the two shipping lines which are major current clients of KCT/PAJ, namely CMA CGM and ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd (ZIM) through a Consortium consisting of ZIM, SSA Marine/Carrix and Kingston Wharves who had previously expressed who had previously expressed an interest in participating in the privatization of KCT. Cabinet on Monday, March 4, 2013 gave permission to proceed on this basis. The targeted entities will shortly be invited to submit an Expression of Interest and pre-qualified candidates will be invited to participate in the bidding stage. Following this, a concessionaire will be chosen and it is anticipated that the process will be finalized by the end of the calendar year.

An allied project to the privatization of the port is the dredging of the Kingston Harbour. The objective of this development is to facilitate the berthing of 12,500 TEU vessels that will be able to traverse the Panama Canal on completion of its present expansion which is now scheduled for June, 2015.

In pursuit of this objective, it is necessary to increase the access channel depth from 14 metres to 17 metres. As a first step, geo-technical investigations will be undertaken to facilitate the dredging process. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed and an initial submission has been presented to the National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) for their evaluation.

In terms of Fort August, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has expressed an interest in providing investment funds to develop a new container terminal on lands owned by the PAJ at Fort Augusta. In this respect, a non-binding MOU between both parties was signed in July 2012 and will expire on March 31, 2013.

Currently, a technical feasibility study, inclusive of design and financial evaluations to determine the overall viability of the proposal in respect of the establishment of a container terminal is being explored by CHEC. It is expected that the study will be completed by March, 2013; thereafter a decision as to whether to proceed will be taken.

With respect to the Transport Authority, a number of initiatives are taking place there to improve its operations. The Transport Authority (TA) is the body established to regulate and monitor public transportation in the urban areas of the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), the Montego Bay Metropolitan Transport Region (MMR) and all other urban and rural areas.

Several programmes aimed at improving the structure, organization and service delivery in the sector are currently being pursued. These include:

·         Monitoring systems;

·         Training and Certification of Public Passenger Vehicle Drivers and Conductors;

·         Licensing regime;

·         Legislative and Regulatory framework.

MONITORING SYSTEMS

The following activities have been undertaken:

·         Expansion of the Operations Division with the addition of thirty-eight (38) new Route Inspectors.

·         Designation of fifty-one (51) Route Inspectors and two (2) employees at the Authority as District Constables with the powers of arrest. This action should help to bolster the effectiveness of the operations teams, especially where challenges exist in getting Police support for road operations. ;

·         Interagency collaboration. This has resulted in the Authority gaining access to information on outstanding tickets, from the Jamaica Constabulary Force - Traffic Ticket Management Information System. This strategic move positions the Authority to make more informed decisions regarding the granting of licenses, permits and badges and will reduce the number of recalcitrant drivers in the formal system;

·         The introduction of the Public Transportation Management System (PTMS) in the upcoming fiscal year will allow for greater monitoring of drivers with the creation and maintenance of a shared database among the Transport Authority, Police, Taxi Associations and Insurance Companies, to record and track general misconduct by PPV drivers.

TRAINING & CERTIFICATION OF PUBLIC PASSENGER VEHICLE OPERATORS

·         The introduction of mandatory training for all Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV) operators prior to entry into the sector is now a reality. An agreement has been signed between the Transport Authority and the Heart Trust NTA for delivery of the training programme island-wide, with the first set of training sessions scheduled to begin in April of this year. This one day training programme will focus on topics such as the legal framework, customer service and defensive driving. Attendance in this training programme will now be a pre-requisite for the granting of Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV) badges. This is in addition to the new requirement for the submission of a Driving Record from the Police Traffic Headquarters .

·         Ongoing assessments will be carried out by the Authority to monitor the impact of the training on the drivers and conductors. It is expected that the newly trained drivers and conductors will exhibit greater discipline and respect towards the travelling public.

LICENSING REGIME

·         The Authority recently embarked on a National Feasibility Survey aimed at conducting studies on the state of the sector. The data collection phase has been completed and the final report detailing the findings and recommendations is expected to be completed by the end of April, 2013. The findings of the survey will guide decisions regarding licensing and the development of the public transportation system. More specifically the data will provide information on:

a) Demand for and supply of public transportation on all routes.

b) Travelling population on each route.

c) Number of vehicles (legal and illegal) operating on established routes. Other information which will be garnered will include average daily trips per route, average load time of operators on all routes, quality of the current transportation system and terminal facilities along the routes among others.

·         The Transport Authority, at the start of the 2013/2014 licensing period, instituted a 48 hour delivery time for renewals of PPV and commercial carriers’ road licenses. This is a major improvement over the two week processing time which previously obtained. Speaking at the Press Conference, Minister Omar Davies used the opportunity to announce an Amnesty for persons operating as Public Passenger Vehicles without the requisite Licences. He said:

Effective April 1, 2013 there will be an amnesty for those persons who are operating public passenger vehicles without the requisite road licences. This amnesty will apply to all geographical areas save and except those in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) that are exclusively licensed to the Jamaica Urban Transit Company. The boundaries of the KMTR for this purpose are Manor Park, Papine and Eleven Miles in St. Andrew and Central Village in St. Catherine. The Amnesty will end on June 30, 2013.

Operators are therefore encouraged to utilize this opportunity as after the June 30, 2013 deadline, no licences will be issued for these routes and there will be a zero tolerance approach by the Transport Authority and the Police for those found to operating without a road licence. In such instances vehicles operated without the requisite road licences will be seized and kept in storage until a road licence is produced or alternately they are disposed of by the Authority.