Taxi operators demand more parking space in HWT

BY JOVANEY ASHMAN
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

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SCORES of frustrated taxi operators protested outside the Transport Authority's offices on Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew yesterday, chanting, “We want a park”, while also demanding that the authority clamp down on illegal hackney carriages occupying the parking spaces on Spencer James Avenue, behind Nelson Mandela Park in Half-Way-Tree.

The taxi operators say that the park only has nine spaces for the more than 30 taxi drivers that traverse Maxfield Avenue, thus making them easy targets for traffic violations.

President of the All-Island United Route Taxi Association, Raymond Bynes, said the association has sent more than 10 letters about the issue to the Transport Authority, but are yet to see a solution that works.

“Whenever the Transport Authority comes into the park then the space is vacant, because they let them (illegal taxi operators) know that the area is designated for the route taxi, then they will move. But as soon the authority leaves, they come back,” Bynes said.

The protest, which was reportedly organised without the knowledge of the president, has caused some amount of disarray in the organisation, with some members stating that the president has been aloof to their dilemma.

According to the president, the association was notified that a meeting was scheduled for the second week of this month with the Transport Authority, and the association has requested that members participate.

Public relations officer for the All-Island United Route Taxi Association Janet Dacres-Burke said that each taxi operator is losing more than $4,000 every day due to overcrowding in the park and traffic tickets.

But Transport Authority General Manager of Operation Audley Carter, while admitting that the park is not adequate for hosting “everyone”, said the authority has been doing its best to patrol the area, as it is not able to monitor the park 24 hours per day.

“We have worked with the police officers to ensure that the illegal operators are not occupying the park. It is not perfect, and we hope to hold future discussions as to what can happen to fix the situation which has been going on for years,” Carter said.

Carter believes, however, that the park is able to comfortably hold 15 cars, on each side.

The Transport Authority and the All-Island United Route Taxi Association are expected to have further discussions at a meeting with the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, the National Works Agency, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force on August 15.

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