Jamaica
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Gov't not intimidated by threat of taxi strike, says Shaw

By Kimone Witter 

Transport Minister Audley Shaw has said the government will not be intimidated by threats of strike by unruly public transport operators.

His comment is in response to groups representing transport operators encouraging their members to withdraw their service today, as no further word has been forthcoming from the government on the call for a payment plan to clear outstanding traffic tickets.

Speaking with Radio Jamaica News this morning, Mr. Shaw said the issues concerning the payment of outstanding traffic tickets are being examined carefully.

But he said persons with outstanding traffic tickets should start paying now and those with large numbers of outstanding tickets need to ask the Traffic Court for a payment plan.

A member of the association, Ian Lynch, said the plan is to continue the withdrawal of service up to Tuesday, December 6 if there is no further word from the government. 

Another member of the association, Tiganna Madden, said some transport operators decided to stay off the job out of fear of prosecution following the announcement that enforcement of regulations under the new Road Traffic Act would start today, December 1.

Director of the Island Traffic Authority, Kenute Hare, has said the date is being reviewed based on requests from motorists.

But Mr. Madden said without a further announcement and the lack of a payment plan, transport operators with outstanding tickets are panicking.

"A lot of persons say that they are not willing to go to jail so they decide to stay home until they hear from the government. I was told that persons, their licence are being suspended. So what we’re basically doing then, we’re creating criminals in the society because if a person can’t provide fi him family legally, him aguh do it a different way," Mr. Madden argued. 

Lukewarm response 

The reaction from transport operators to the call to withdraw their service has been mixed.

While operators in Spanish Town and Linstead, St. Catherine and parts of St. Mary, including Oracabessa, seem to have heeded the call to stay off the job, their counterparts in other parishes have largely ignored the directive.

For operators in St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth, it has been business as usual.

Several transport operators in St. Elizabeth told Radio Jamaica News that they will not support the indiscipline of a few operators.

The operators say if their colleagues are at at fault in failing to pay their outstanding tickets, they should not be shown leniency.