Egerton Newman: Last week, the taxi operators of the nation voted for an islandwide shutdown of the public transport sector from 14th November, and as a result, all transport services across Jamaica are disrupted.
The whole contention started over a traffic ticket amnesty request from the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) which the government has denied providing.
The taxi drivers were calling for the amnesty to be presented to Cabinet on Monday, but last weekend they learned that this would not be the case. This has reportedly angered the taxi drivers and their leader, Egerton Newman.
Newman’s last warning
The President of the Transport Operator Development Sustainable Service (TODSS), Egerton Newman, has served a last warning to the Jamaican government and has urged commuters across the island to make alternative preparations for transportation to work and school.
Egerton Newman has stressed that a number of issues affecting operators, some having to do with government policies, financing, and ticket amnesty, have converged to the point where they feel that a total withdrawal of their service would effectively demonstrate their point.
No doubt, the situation in Jamaica is turning extremely tense. According to a media report by Jamaica observer, Jamaica has declared a state of public emergency, as the crime situation across the island nation has worsened.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, speaking at a news conference told reporters that SOE (State of Public Emergency) has also been established for St James, Westmoreland, and Hanover, as the government believes, the increase in crime and violence presents a threat to property and public order.
PM Holness stressed to reporters, “The government, after careful consideration on the advice of the security chiefs, have decided to advise the Governor General that it was necessary and indeed appropriate to declare States of Public Emergency in these areas. We have seen an increase in criminal activity in these areas and indeed a threat to property and in some instances, public disorder.”
Over the last six months, a significant increase in murders has been seen all across the island. The PM added that “right across the region, in particular along the Caribbean basin, societies like Jamaica are experiencing a persistent increase in homicides, shootings and other dangerous crimes.”
This emergency declaration by the government coincides with taxi drivers’ nationwide strikes. Egerton’s strike against the government has proven that the public populace against Holness is turning at an all-time high.
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No right to cry foul!
Holness was elected as the PM of Jamaica for a second term in 2020, but with a pretty low turnout. Only 38% of the Jamaican voters had voted in the election and that too, a preponed one.
Holness had called the vote six months early, despite the coronavirus pandemic as his approval ratings were tanking. For the past six years, PM Holness has managed to remain in office. Still, he hasn’t been able to catch the nerve of the populace, though.
He talks of reducing crimes, but under his tenure, things have sadly gone bananas. With 49.4 homicides per 100,000 people in 2021, Jamaica has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean. To compare, the Dominican Republic had a homicide rate of 10.3 per 100,000 people in the same year, nearly five times lower than Jamaica’s rate.
Furthermore, ticket amnesty has been a long contentious issue between the government and taxi drivers of Jamaica.
Over the last ten years, the government has issued two amnesties for traffic tickets. The government issued an amnesty in 2012 that was valid from July 1 to December 31. The government had granted about $340 million.
The second amnesty that was announced in 2017 was $846 million. The government reported at the time that unpaid tickets were estimated to be more than $2 billion.
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A Grumpy leader
Furthermore, Holness is reducing a Caribbean nation with enormous potential to a mere vassal state of the United States. We had previously reported that Holness had left Jamaica’s public hospitals to support the growth of American private clinics.
Holness has emphasized numerous times that he has passed the point of trying to gain political points and convince the public. He is no longer bothered by it.
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This is the reason why, the public, including Taxi drivers, are rising up against the government and Egerton is the leader who is charging the environment against the government. However, the situation in Jamaica needs to be cooled down or the nation might turn into the next Haiti.
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