Imagine what would happen if Gov't bows to the lawlessness of taxi, bus operators
Taxis parked at North Parade in downtown Kingston on Monday morning as operators demanded a traffic ticket amnesty. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Taxi and bus operators islandwide, as they are wont to do, yesterday created mayhem and pain for commuters — most of them poor people who don't have private transportation — putting muscle behind attempts to force the authorities to bow to their demands.

The assertion by Mr Egeton Newman and his curiously named Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) that the strike was on behalf of commuters, is one of the most asinine that we have heard.

The undiluted truth is that, despite all sorts of wild claims about bad changes imposed by new traffic laws, these transportation operators want to do as they please, no matter the chaos they unleash and the danger they pose to ordinary citizens who must use the roads.

To support their strike, they not only blocked roads, preventing children from attending schools and senior citizens from keeping critical appointments, but they pulled commuters from vehicles that were not part of their illegal action.

Yesterday was a huge loss for production because people were prevented from going to work, and education — still far from recovered from the consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic — suffered another serious blow as most schools could not organise quickly enough to switch to online.

From all indications, these lawless operators are insisting that the Government introduces a third traffic ticket amnesty, claiming they need more time to pay. When one gets a traffic ticket, one has a month to pay the fine at any tax office before the court gets involved. How much more time do these undisciplined taxi and bus operators need?

In any event, traffic ticket amnesties do not work in this neck of the woods. Operators simply refuse to follow the road code and don't believe they should be held accountable for the uncivilised behaviour, the chaos and disorder that make our streets the wild wild west that they are.

As Inspector Damion Butler, head of operations at Linstead Police Station in St Catherine, was quoted in news reports as saying, "The town has been overrun with taxi operators so the new initiative is to see how best we can bring back some semblance of order in regards to traffic flow in the township."

These initiatives include introduction of new routes and plans to convert some roads to one-way traffic, changes operators do not want as they prefer the status quo, never mind the pain residents are suffering.

Our question is: What sort of message would the Government be sending to keep granting traffic ticket amnesties? If the tickets are not a deterrent, imagine what would happen on our streets. These people have absolutely no regard for road users and pedestrians alike, and something has got to be done to reverse that trend.

There will never be enough police personnel to maintain any semblance of order, especially in the beleaguered urban centres if, all of a sudden, Government decides to forgive them. Government would be more naïve than we suspect to believe that an amnesty, in itself, would stop their road crimes.

Meanwhile, many taxi operators were seen playing loud music while drinking and smoking, as if celebrating the madness they created. This cannot be our future.

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