I reported in my previous blog on the increase in bus fares announced yesterday; the increases will take effect on Sunday. There have been numerous expressions of deep concern from several sectors of society, including the National Consumer League and some trade unions. The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union says the issue will impact public sector wage negotiations next year (in March, 2013 civil servants agreed to wage restraint for the contract period 2012-2015. They are feeling the pinch). Jamaica’s oldest union, the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JACISERA) has gone a step further, suggesting members boycott the Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation buses. JACISERA says the increase does not bode well for the Partnership for Transformation among the public and private sector and civil society.
Fares for Jamaica’s senior citizens have seen by far the largest increase. Below is a release from the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), which supports Jamaicans over fifty who are retired or planning to retire. Seniors are already struggling with rising inflation and a declining standard of living for many. This increase is, in my view, quite heartless.
Kingston, Jamaica- August 21, 2014: The Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) is reacting with shock to the government’s announcement of an increase in the bus fare for seniors who travel on the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses, from $20.00 to $60.00 – a whopping increase of 200 per cent.
Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Chair of the CCRP, in commenting on the decision, stated: “The increase will amplify the burden on seniors who have to make regular visits to health care facilities such as hospitals and health clinics along with collecting their NIS [pensions].”
She further indicated that the increase will also have a negative impact on programmes implemented by the CCRP, the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) and other organizations for seniors, designed to promote active ageing and healthy living, as most seniors will not be able to attend due the increase.
Jean Lowrie-Chin, Founder and CEO of the CCRP, added that the plight of seniors in the society is already quite alarming and this would further compound their challenges. “They are facing the triple jeopardy of poor health, economic marginalization and threats to their personal security – surely there needs to be special consideration for them,” she said.
The government is urged to identify other alternatives that will not discriminate against this vulnerable group of citizens.
CCRP Jamaica was launched in April 2010. It is a membership organisation for persons 50 and over retired or planning to retire. CCRP is dedicated to honouring the wisdom of seniors and promoting respect for them through programmes that enhance their well-being, skills, and talents towards the development of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Diaspora. Our aspiration is for all seniors to be empowered to live ‘Life to the Fullest’.
Contact: Dorett Linton,
Tel: 926-6740 (office)