VIDEO: Welcome to Westmoreland, the ‘bike taxi’ parish
Loop News' Reginald Allen engages a group of motorcyclists in discussion in Little London, Westmoreland. (PHOTO & VIDEO: Ramon Lindsay)
They can be seen in literally every section of the parish that spans 807 square kilometres (312 square miles) and considered to be the eighth largest in the island.
Motorcycles of various kinds and sizes are driven by the young, the old and middle aged individuals alike, mostly seeking to use them as a means of transportation and more than ever, a source of income.
Locals will tell anyone who is curious enough to ask that Westmoreland is simply the parish of the ‘bike taxi’.
A phenomenon seen as the ‘saving grace’ for many of the unemployed there, bike taxi operation is considered a blessing for some. But it also poses one of the biggest challenges for local authorities seeking to clamp down on high road fatality numbers in the western section of the country.
The police told Loop News that in a bid to earn, bike operators can push the limits of what can or cannot be done - sometimes transporting as many as five persons at one time on a bike, as they seek to earn the ‘almighty dollar’.
A recent visit to the parish revealed how motorcycles were used to transport cement, blocks, gas cylinders and just about anything that one can imagine from one place to another.
However, the most prominent activity was the wholesale transportation of human cargo.
The police said as part of their clampdown, they have seized hundreds of unregistered bikes from individuals in the parish, but the operations remain in business, creating more mayhem on the roads.
Meanwhile, the pound in the parish is bursting at the seams with confiscated bikes.
“The pounds are running out of space. What you are finding is that when the bikes are seized and placed at the pound, the operators seldom return for the devices,” said a senior traffic police officer in the parish.
The law enforcement officer said the bike operators, after having their cycles seized, simply go and buy another - and the problems of getting them to follow the road traffic guidelines start all over.