ONLINE READER'S COMMENT: Heads must roll for Palisadoes traffic chaos

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Travellers to the Norman Manley International Airport on January 1, 2018 will remember this as 'A day of chaos'. I dare say if no one in the Police High Command is held accountable, the police commissioner and the security minister must resign.

I believe heads must roll and all those in charge on that day should be demoted and transferred. How did the police allow this chaotic situation to reign on the airport road, a major thoroughfare to the international travel?

I believe an inquiry must be held to ascertain what caused the failures and that situations like this never again occur.

About 3:10 pm, as I drove past the vicinity of the Gypsum Port, traffic had come to a standstill. Traffic from the airport direction came in spurts. I immediately thought there must be an accident up ahead. I inquired and was told that the build up of traffic was a result of a party, not accident.

Traffic coming from the airport was cut off. Motorist heading to the party figured that they could drive into the oncoming traffic lane and on the soft shoulder. At one point we had five lanes of traffic heading towards Gunboat Beach.

Where was the police? A police officer showed up and ordered motorist on the soft shoulder in coming traffic to turn back. No penalty. As soon as the police officer left motorists continued from where they left, blocking traffic. The indiscipline of these motorists continued unabated. I got to the airport 6:05 pm.

My return trip was even worse. From the airport roundabout to the entrance to Caribbean Maritime University took one hour and two minutes.

Coaster buses were allowed to drive on the soft shoulder shuttling patrons to the party. At one point we did not move an inch for 45 minutes. From the airport, the road turned into four and five lane traffic. No traffic was flowing into the airport direction. What if there was an emergency at the airport that required emergency response?

There were major disruptions to international travel.

All along the road up to Harbour View roundabout, I saw people walking, pulling their luggage. Motorcyclists shouting “Airport me say” did brisk business carting passengers and their luggage to the airport. Airport workers in uniform walked all the way from the airport to Harbour view roundabout.

As I sat in traffic, it dawned on me that this chaotic situation that prevailed was a result of police “go slow”. I could not understand the inadequate police presence. As I got close to the Harbour View roundabout, all along the roadway, revellers were having their own party on the soft shoulder. Why did the police allow this to happen?

I concluded that there was not enough police presence and the few that were there were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd. Why was there no reinforcement? Something the police commissioner should answer. Calling for a ban on the party makes no sense to me. We need to have and enforce law and order. As I see it, the pileup of traffic was due in part to unruly motorists who have no fear of the law.

The police should have a ticket system with supporting laws to issue ticket to every motorist that was not following in the line of traffic. The offence (not following the lane of traffic), plate number, make of the vehicle. The registered owners of the vehicle would be responsible for paying the relevant fines.

Motorists would not break the laws if they know they would have to pay a penalty. If the police had and did not use the ticket system they would have failed the traveling public. This should never happen again. An inquiry is in order.

Authnel S Reid

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