Sunday 15 December, 2019

VIDEO: Passengers miss flights as New Year’s party causes gridlock

Screenshot of video circulating on social media shows a man carrying luggage towards the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston amid a traffic pile-up along the Palisadoes strip on New Year's Day.

Screenshot of video circulating on social media shows a man carrying luggage towards the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston amid a traffic pile-up along the Palisadoes strip on New Year's Day.

Jamaica’s name is again being sullied on social media, this time by airline passengers, some of them foreigners, who are seething mad having missed their flights out of Jamaica because of a New Year’s party that caused an hours-long pile up of traffic along the Palisadoes Road, choking off the access to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

There was a flood of comments on Facebook from either people who had missed their flights into or out of the island and from those empathizing with them. Most questioned the wisdom of the authorities in granting a permit for a party on the Palisadoes strip.

One policeman who was on duty at the annual New Year’s party called ‘Sandz’ told Loop News the police usually have “a little problem” with the traffic but that this year was the “worst I have seen it.”

In some instances, flights were delayed by as much as six hours as even flight crews had problems reaching the airport and the limited police on the strip appeared powerless to effectively deal with the situation. Some passengers abandoned vehicles and walked to the airport with their luggage on their heads and in their hands in their desperate bid to catch their flights.

Among those affected was Stephen Edwards, the president of Generation 2000 (G2K), the young professional arm of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, who tweeted: "Just spent 6 hours stuck in traffic on Palisadoes Rd. Traffic wasn't moving in any direction. Missed the flt."

Also affected were residents and patrons of the popular seaside town, Port Royal.

In a Facebook post, one user, Silvia Kouwenberg said: "New Year’s party at Gunboat Beach causing the airport to be inaccessible. No traffic going in or out of what is supposed to be an international airport since 7 pm courtesy of a dance. Only in Jamaica."

Kouwenberg was not amused by the fact that her flight was delayed by more than six hours. She said: "(I) am in New York at JFK waiting on the plane to leave Jamaica so I can depart. My 1:00 am flight is now leaving at 7:15am.”

Pictures circulating on social media of the traffic pile-up along the Palisadoes strip on New Year's Day.

The gridlock was so bad that traffic stretched from the entrance to the airport all the way to the Flour Mills. “There was just nowhere to turn. I felt trapped,” one Facebook user commented.

“I’m furious and disgusted,” another person who missed her flight posted. She was travelling with her four-month old daughter.

One person questioned: “I understand there's a huge party at Gunboat Beach and traffic to/from airport cannot pass?”

Questions are now being raised as to whether a ban should be placed on such entertainment activities on the delicate Palisadoes strip, the gateway to Kingston in order to prevent such inconveniences in the future.

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