State-owned bus company shuts down Transport Centre

Police officers on guard at the Half-Way Tree Transportation Centre in St Andrew on Tuesday (Sept 24). (Photos: Gary Mitchell)

The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is taking the safety of the commuting public and members of staff in serious consideration as the agency shut down operations at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre this afternoon.

Speaking with BUZZ, Corporate Communications Manager at JUTC, Cecil Thoms said that precautionary measures and evacuations were taken as tensions rose to a new high close to midday.

When pressed on the credibility of a bomb threat at the transport centre, he told BUZZ, “We have decided with our partners to shutter the facility until we can truly assess whether it is so or not.”

“We have persons at the facility, and we would not want to cause them any harm, given what has happened. We know the tensions are high and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided that [we’ll] secure the place for now,” Thoms added.

The state-owned facility, which was mostly empty due to strike action by JUTC drivers, was swarming with activity – faced with unconfirmed reports of a bomb threat.

In the meantime, Thoms said the JUTC will be having a phased re-introduction of its fleet of buses, with the hope of having a full resumption of services by 5pm.

“By then, or during the course of those activities, we hope to hear first from our security partners whether or not we can, in fact, open the facility,” Thoms said.

An emergency meeting was convened by the management of the JUTC, with various stakeholders this morning, following two tragic incidents which have left a JUTC driver and a taxi operator dead.

Several stakeholders were present including the Police High Command, union representatives, the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO) and Ministry of Transport officials.

“We reiterate that the safety of our drivers and commuters is our paramount concern and, in that regard, we have been reassured by the police that they will be out in their numbers,” the JUTC remarked in a press release.

“We thank our commuters for their patience and understanding and regret the inconvenience caused this morning. We also wish to express our appreciation to our drivers, who remain dedicated in their call of duty in this most difficult time,” the government agency added.