Gov’t to go after public property vandals

Transport Minister Daryl Vaz says he will be looking into legislation to address acts of vandalism on State property, particularly those deemed as ‘stone-throwing’ incidents that usually cause millions in damage.

This follows vandalism of one of the 50 newly acquired Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses which were rolled out for the new school year. An image on social media on Tuesday showed the bus with a smashed side glass.

Speaking at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday at Jamaica House, Vaz lamented that while damage to public property is a felony and carries federal charges in the United States of America, it is merely characterised as a stone-throwing incident in Jamaica.

“We cannot spend this amount of money to have either idle or orchestrated attacks on Government’s property because the Government’s property is the taxpayers’ property. So that is something that I’m going to be looking at in relation to current legislation and whether or not it requires amended legislation because the time is now for this to stop,” he said.

“It cannot be that we waited so long for 50 brand new buses and within the first day of operations there’s an attack. Thankfully, no one was injured but it is unacceptable and it cannot continue to be classified as a stone-throwing incident; it’s not; it’s an attack on Government property and it will be dealt with… going forward,” Vaz added.

Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for information, Robert Morgan chimed in, saying there are “vested interests who are not happy with the expansion of the JUTC fleet”.

Vaz reminded the public that any improvement in transport, whether the bus system or the taxi system, is to the benefit of the citizens of Jamaica, “and therefore, it must be embraced by all well-thinking Jamaicans and leave the bad mind behind”.

The JUTC has had a long-running battle with vandalism of buses which has caused injury to some of its drivers and passengers and resulted in millions of dollars spent on repairs.

“These incidents have caused massive dislocation resulting in buses being down for inordinate periods of time as spare parts, which are not available here, have to be sourced overseas. This not only affects the operations and the ability of the company to generate much-needed revenue but also the public,” the company said.