J’lanni Douglas, the driver of the popular minibus ‘Toppa’, registration No. H3111, and his conductor Anthony Ames, were, last Wednesday, each fined $900 or nine weeks in prison, for overloading the bus.
The men were charged separately with allowing the bus, licensed to carry 18 passengers, to carry 27.
Douglas, a resident of Rockies, paid the fine forthwith and left the Serious Offences Court, while Ames asked Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne to give him time. He was ordered to pay $400 forthwith or four weeks, and $500 by March 13 or five weeks. Both men had pleaded guilty to the charge.
Sergeant Kenny Jones of the Police Traffic Department used the patrol car to intercept the bus which had diverted from the main and was travelling along the Murray’s Village/Rockies route.
Jones told the Court that some of the passengers were sitting on the laps of others, while some were tightly squeezed together.
The Chief Magistrate was appalled by what she heard.
“This is crazy,” she remarked.
“If anything happens, the Insurance only covers a certain number of people, and the traffic officers need to get serious with these things,” she declared.
She took the opportunity to send a stern warning to all minibus operators present.
“When it comes to jam-up and squeeze-up and sitting in people’s laps, you are playing with other criminal offences.”
Sergeant Jones told the Court that he had spoken to Douglas on several occasions. He noted that hours after this incident, Douglas overturned the vehicle at Villa.
Ames was charged under the Conductors Regulations while Douglas was charged under the Drivers Regulations.
They both state that a person could be fined not more than $1,500, and no less than $100, and imprisonment of 21 days.(VIN)