Monday 6 April, 2020

Protesting taxi operators block the route to Norman Manley airport

Scores of persons on their way to and from the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston were inconvenienced on Wednesday morning as taxi operators who are protesting aspects of new Road Traffic Act used debris to block the road.

Among the items used to block a section of the Sir Florizel Glasspole Boulevard that leads to and from the airport were concrete boulders.

Loop News understands that the traffic backed up all the way to the vicinity of the Jamaica Flour Mills.

The roadblock, which was subsequently cleared by the police, resulted in some persons being late for their flights.

The incident brought back memories of the New Year’s Day incident when scores of persons going to the airport, including flight crews and visitors to the country, missed their flights after the Palisadoes main road was blocked by patrons attending a party in the area.

SSP Calvin Allen

A warning has been issued to the protesting taxi operators by Commanding Officer for the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Calvin Allen.

Allen, who was speaking on radio on Wednesday morning, acknowledged the right to protest, but reminded that “they have no right as it relates to the blocking of any thoroughfare to prevent persons from going about their lawful business. This is where we (the police) will be ensuring that our lawful presence is there and will take full effect in that regard.”

The senior cop said blockages were also observed in the Harbour View area, but officers from PSTED, Kingston East and the Mobile Reserve responded quickly and cleared them, thus ensuring that traffic continues to flow smoothly across the Corporate Area.

Allen made a plea for two of the main leaders of the taxi groups - Edgeton Newman and Louis Barton - to “ensure that as they go about treating with their concerns, that they do so in a way so it doesn’t impede the travelling public.”

The lawman declared: “We will not sit back and cause the commuting public to be inconvenienced. Whatever it takes for us to ensure that law and order take place, and that they (the commuting public) have a peaceful process, that is what we are for.”

He was at pains to point out that taxi operators are not being singled out under the particular provision of the new Road Traffic Act, with which they have taken issue.

The provision will make it possible for the owners of a motor vehicle to be ticketed, even if the owner was not driving the vehicle at the time a traffic breach was committed with the unit.

Transport Minister, Robert Montague, on Tuesday night explained on television that the ticketing of vehicle owners for road traffic offences that are committed by other drivers using the vehicles, is only applicable where the offences are detected electronically, like at stoplights, where the electronic systems only records the vehicle with which the offences are committed, and not the drivers who are behind the wheels.

This system currently obtains in countries like the United States, where vehicle owners often get a ticket in the mail where surveillance cameras capture the vehicles’ licence plates when breaches are committed.

The provision will be applicable to all motor vehicle owners in Jamaica, not just public passenger vehicle owners.

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