Vandals leave JUTC with $20-million bill
If Radcliffe Lewis has his way, persons who damage government properties could be forced to spend a long time in prison.
Lewis, a retired senior superintendent of police who now heads security at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), said persons who damage government-owned properties should be viewed as undesirables, and that they should be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
"I think that there should be something in law as it relates to sabotage of government property and government installation," Lewis said.
The Malicious Injuries to Property Act provides for persons to be liable to be imprisoned for life with or without hard labour. However, cases tried in the parish court carry a lower penalty.
The tough-talking Lewis made the call for tougher penalties after some of the company's buses were damaged in McCooks Pen, St Catherine, last week.
Some 35 buses have been damaged since the start of the year by persons who have thrown stones into their windshields.
"They are mischievous and sabotaging government property and with all the money they are costing the Government and taxpayers, this is more than sabotage. I believe the penalty should be stiff and should go beyond malicious destruction of property for those undesirables. They should get no less than five to 10 years for malicious destruction of vital government property and installation," he told THE STAR.
Lewis said that the company has spent $20 million repairing the damaged vehicles over a four-month period.
"The damaged buses from the McCooks Pen incident have been pulled out of service for repair. Repairing and installing one windshield cost $850,000 and we have had to repair over 22. The other repairs done were on the side glasses. All repairs thus far cost over $20 million."
"Most times the incident is done during the nights like 8:30 - 9 o'clock, and when persons come out nobody is seen all you hear is running. The strategies being used is because the police officers, along with JUTC inspectors, patrol the particular problem areas in the nights. We have full cooperation from the police, but when there is a hike in crime, the amount of personnel supplied are reduced and understandably so," he said.