Reginald Budhan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, says more mechanics and auto technicians need to become trained and certified in order to meet new standards in the motor repairer industry.
Speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Automobile Association’s (JAA) Approved Auto Repairer programme at JAA’s office in Swallowfield, St. Andrew, October 27, Mr. Budhan noted that the industry was rapidly evolving and required more skilled technicians who were capable of offering quality service to the more than 500,000 registered motor vehicles across the island.
“Today’s modernized automotive industry requires higher standards and although many mechanics are experienced some have not adapted to the changes within the industry,” the Ministry’s chief technocrat told the gathering of garage owners and stakeholders at the launch. “The industry is evolving; and, therefore, standards and consistent training need to be applied to maintain the quality of services garages offer.”
Duane Ellis, General Manager of the JAA noted that the company’s Approved Auto Repairer programme aimed to guarantee that technicians were certified and multi-skilled. In announcing the programme, he said the participating auto shops will be required to ensure that their technicians are certified and trained by the relevant training institutes such as the Jamaican German Automotive School (JAGAS).
“The approved garages must also use up-to-date and precise equipment to diagnose and repair motor vehicles; as well as sustain clean, non- hazardous garage facilities,” Mr. Ellis emphasised. The JAA will also be monitoring the facilities’ standards in customer service and business administration.Cheryl Tracey, Director of Field Operations at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), who endorsed the programme at the launch, noted that complaints against motor repairers accounted for a large number of the complaints the agency received. She pointed out that between April and September this year, the CAC received 129 complaints from consumers against motor repairers and dealers for shoddy repairs and charges for services not rendered. A total of 207 complaints were in the last fiscal year.
“The CAC sees a program such as the JAA’s Approved Auto Repairer program as extremely critical to ensuring that strict service standards are maintained, and that established protocols are observed for dealing with issues,” Mrs. Tracey said. “As such the CAC endorses the new JAA program.”
Four auto shops have already been certified and branded JAA Approved Auto Repairers by the Association, and others across the island are making the necessary changes to become approved. The four facilities are Ankara Limited, Andre’s Auto Supplies Limited, Auto Maintenance Limited and Everett Fenton’s Garage Limited.
Mr. Budhan, who also commended the JAA for conceptualising the programme, said the initiative was introduced at an opportune time as the Government was looking at ways to improve its Motor Vehicle Policy.
He added that the initiative was a good foundation on which to introduce other major standards such as the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 9001 certification to further improve the quality of management in auto shops and other organisations. The international standard focuses on the quality of processes that create and control products and services and prescribes a systematic control of activities to ensure that the needs and expectations of customers are met.
Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the JAA, welcomed the recommendation and noted that the company would look into to how it can partner with government and other stakeholders to introduce and promote the standard through the AAR.
The Chairman added that the JAA Approved Auto Repairer programme was working in sync with national goals. Citing an initiative announced by Prime Minister Bruce Golding to have garages licensed to certify vehicles as road worthy, Mr. Jarrett said, “This effort of the JAA should be seen as a first step toward facilitating this idea.”
He noted that it was about “facilitating national development through vehicular safety and it is important to the JAA that our activities coincide with the national goals of our country.”
The JAA Approved Auto Repairers programme was also endorsed by, Kevin Baxter, Deputy Manager, HEART Trust/ NTA JAGAS and Cheryl Tracey, Director of Field Operations at the Consumer Affairs Commission.