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Comrade Colin not quitting - JUTC head says he will stay on despite new Government

Published:Friday | March 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Managing director of Jamaica Urban Transit Company, Colin Campbell, examines one of the company's buses.

Former People's National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament Collin Campbell will not be resigning as the managing director of the state-run Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC) despite the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) taking power.

A confidant of former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, the Reverend Dr Garnett Roper, who chaired the JUTC board, and the other board members who were appointed by then Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies resigned following last month's general election, but Campbell says despite his close ties to the PNP he will not be following their lead as his was not a political appointment.

"My contract with JUTC goes to the middle of August. I am not a political appointee, I am not on the political side; I work under a contract," Campbell told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I came here on a three-year contract, so I expect after the contract expires to go, and it wouldn't have anything to do with which government was there," added Campbell.

The former PNP general secretary noted that his political ties cannot be hidden, but argued that he does not anticipate that will cause problems, despite Mike Henry being appointed to head the transport ministry.

"I come from a political background and that is known, but I am here to work and to make sure the transition from one administration to another is efficient, preserve all the gains that the company has made, and that we will be able to assist Minister Henry to settle in as quickly as possible," said Campbell.


Expects Henry's support


He argued that his situation is no different from other managers in the public sector and, therefore, he expects to enjoy the same support from Henry as he did with Davies.

"As long as I am here I expect the same support no matter who is minister," said Campbell.

"The Jamaica Urban Transit Company is not my company; it belongs to the people of Jamaica and everybody would want to deliver an efficient public transport system."

The 61-year-old Campbell, who walked away from active politics in 2006 at the peak of his power because of the Trafigura scandal, was cagey when asked if he plans to return to the political arena after his contract expires.

"There is a time and place for everything under the sun, meaning that if I am going to do such a thing everybody will know," said Campbell.

Campbell was appointed to head the JUTC in August 2013, sparking an immediate firestorm from the then Opposition JLP.

At that time, the then opposition spokesman on transport, Karl Samuda, described that appointment as another case of a party loyalist being given a high-level position.

Samuda also expressed doubt about Campbell, a former state minister in the transport ministry, being the right person to head the bus company.

However, this was rejected by the JUTC board, which claimed that Campbell's selection was done in a transparent manner.

The board said Campbell was selected from 38 applicants by a committee tasked with identifying a replacement for Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, who resigned as the managing director of the bus company in July 2013.

The JUTC board is one of several whose members have resigned since the JLP was given the nod by the electorate to form the new government, in keeping with the corporate governance framework with the practice being for all board members to hand in resignations once a new minister is appointed.