Recently the taxi operators, under their aggressive leadership held the country to ransom, especially the Kingston and St. Andrew region.
They demanded the government to be liberal with them as regards their breach of the road traffic laws and their failure to pay outstanding tickets.
It would have been a stupid government that would bow to the demands of these undisciplined operators of public transportation in our beloved country. Because of the poor and rundown public transportation system, the voices of taxi and other private operators are loud and vociferous. I am calling on the government of the day and the Transport Authority to “stamp out “ the indiscipline on our roads and the filthy behaviour of taxi and private buses drivers.
With a failed public transportation system, especially that of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, the Jamaican commuters for the last twenty years have been left to the mercy of taxi and minibus drivers – mostly people who lack professionalism and are uncouth in their behaviour and mannerisms.
Our travelling working class has been taken “for a joke” by these rude and uncouth taxi and minibus drivers. The commuting class has no one to advocate for them. No elected official cares- it is the same story all over- the poor are left to fend for themselves. This time is the shabby service provided by men who have no business sense as their Customer Service is fraught with abuse, unprofessionalism and bad manners.
The travelling public is forced to take vehicles driven by persons who continuously demonstrate the most anti-social behaviour to be experienced in Jamaica. They lack civility, order, good manners, courtesy and a dress code. Many are unkempt in dress as they are in their customer service. Why is the public subjected to this? Their behaviour and disregard for authority and accountability has resulted in the massive traffic fines meted out to them. It is their fault, not the government or the public. Therefore let them face the consequences and pay the penalties incurred.
Let me outline what the Jamaican commuter faces each day. They are transported in an atmosphere of loud and filthy music, not worthy of air play. They are transported by men who violate the speed limit and road codes. They are transported by marijuana smoking drivers who have no regard for minors and those who abhor smoking in public spaces.
Commuters are driven at reckless speeds by men swinging from lane to lane who have no patience or respect for other drivers on the roads. Our women are at times attacked and raped by those taxi drivers with a rap sheet and who have flouted the law. Commuters are not given adequate time to take their seats as these impatient taxi and bus drivers are always speeding to take up more commuters and to beat other drivers plying the same route.
It is no secret that many, if not most of the taxi operators of the Kingston and St. Andrew Metropolitan Region have had several encounters with the law. Many are ex convicts, some even paroled as previous murderers. Then there is a vast amount of drivers who were deported from the USA and England. They have no skills or education so the alternative is to get a licence through the corrupt island traffic system and drive a taxi for “the boss” who incidentally is many times a police man.
Therefore we have a spiral of corruption as licencing authorities, police and ex wrongdoers are bedfellows in this public transportation mess, for which the working class commuter suffers.
Too much time has passed for which the government should analyse the situation and come up with a suitable and affordable public transportation system. This should go hand in hand with proper maintenance of the JUTC buses and competent management if the commuting taxpayers are to be treated as beneficiaries of their tax payments to the state.
The Jamaican travelling public has in recent years been neglected and treated as the other. Most working class Jamaicans cannot afford to purchase a car on the paltry income earned in these economically challenging times, but that does not mean commuters are to be treated as trash.
I am therefore pleading to those in power, those who are entrusted to run the Jamaican state in favour of the Jamaican people to take a stand against indiscipline and give us back decent, law abiding transport operators as Jamaica had them in years gone by when the society was civil, and gentle.
A continuation of rag tagged and thuggish transport operators will see Jamaica as the laughing stock of the Caribbean. There are so many Caribbean and Latin American countries with orderly private transportation operators, so is the Jamaican situation one of chaos, indiscipline and thuggery?
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