Urgent need for that rural school bus system

Urgent need for that rural school bus system
Urgent need for that rural school bus system

The yellow coaster bus that was involved in a crash on the Portmore Toll on Thursday. Several people, including students, were injured. (Photo: Najir Williams)

We suspect Education Minister Mrs Fayval Williams is beyond despondent at having to repeatedly console those
including parents and schools
who have lost children to crime and road accidents.

We can only imagine the grief, hopelessness, anger, that bereft parents, relatives, friends, students, teachers, and communities are experiencing.

On Wednesday Mrs Williams was in Williamsfield, Manchester, visiting the Catholic College of Mandeville, where a distraught mother, family, friends, and school community mourned the passing of a 20-year-old.

The young woman was stabbed to death, allegedly by a senselessly enraged male schoolmate who is now before the court.

In Williamsfield, Mrs Williams also had to field questions from journalists regarding another tragedy
A traffic crash in Portland on Tuesday left two Titchfield High School students dead and others injured after a taxi collided with a parked truck.

All early indications are that speeding was most at fault for the crash.

Voicing the oft-repeated call for motorists to “slow down, be careful, obey the rules of the road [because] they are there for our own protection…” Mrs Williams, described by our reporter as angry and sad, made a comment that is surely in line with the thoughts of all reasonable people.

Said she: “I don’t know why people can’t get [the need for caution] in their heads…”

Indeed. Why are many motorists so reckless, careless, and unmindful of the need to protect others and themselves?

It’s not as if the traumatising evidence of such road crashes aren’t in our faces every day, in formal and informal media, and
much too often
in our lived experience.

The Road Safety Unit is reporting that 133 lives were lost in road crashes here up to April 22 this year. That’s deflating, even while we hear that this represents one per cent and six per cent decline in deaths and fatal crashes compared to the similar period in 2023.

The hope was that tough penalties under the new Road Traffic Act and Road Traffic Regulations which came into effect in early 2023 would by now be having a much more positive effect on road safety.

We expect that the promised increased use of modern surveillance technologies will help the overworked constabulary to be more effective in bringing traffic offenders to book, thereby underlining the need for caution.

Also, while injury and death are always traumatizing, it becomes especially difficult to handle when victims are the very young such as earlier this week.

For, such incidents have consistently triggered decades a renewal of appeals for a formal school bus system
especially in rural Jamaica
involving properly trained, supervised, and accountable drivers.

President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association Mr Leighton Johnson has time and again called for such a system — and his cry was again loud and clear this week.

Last year, after being assigned portfolio responsibility for transportation, Mr Daryl Vaz, who is the Member of Parliament for Portland Western, promised to treat as a priority the implementation of a safe, secure, efficient transportation system for rural students.

Well known as a dedicated, energetic individual, Mr Vaz is surely aware that Jamaicans are waiting.

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