MANCHESTER, Jamaica – Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell and member of parliament (MP) for Manchester North Eastern Audley Shaw, say the Christiana taxi park is to be expanded to alleviate congestion and concerns of taxi operators.
“In terms of the expansion of the car park in the Christiana area, two things are on the table – one a businessman (Valenton) Wint had proposed to sublet to us a portion of land that would mean some development in order for us to have some additional space. That I think is on hold at this time, because the Minister of Transport Audley Shaw, who happens to be the MP for the area, has met with officers from the council to discuss an expansion (of the existing taxi park).” Mitchell said on Thursday.
Shaw told OBSERVER ONLINE that he is working with the local municipality to address the inadequate space for taxi operators in Christiana.
“I am working with the Transport Authority and the Manchester Parish Council to urgently expand the existing transportation centre to make it bigger and connect it to the Christiana Bypass,” he said.
Shaw and Mitchell’s comments follow protests by scores of taxi operators Thursday morning, who blocked a section of the Succeed main road in northeast Manchester over what they claim is harassment by the police in Christiana.
The operators downed trees and used debris to block the main road in support of their colleague Jermaine Cunningham, who was captured on video resisting arrest over a traffic breach.
In the near two-minute video, which has gone viral on social media, one of two police officers used a baton to hit Cunningham.
Cunningham has accused the police of physically assaulting him while he was in their custody at the Christiana police station on Wednesday.
“The police dem beat me yesterday… and dem handcuff me and carry mi guh uppa station and handcuff me pon the bench. The police box me inna me face,” he told journalists Thursday morning.
Efforts to get a comment from the Manchester police were unsuccessful up to Thursday evening.
This is the second protest in six months. In March, taxi operators blocked a section of the Succeed main road near Christiana over the parking issue.
The taxis previously used a private property as a parking area, but it is now under construction for a commercial building.
The taxi operators say the parking arrangement on Wildman Street, commonly referred to as Market Street, is dangerous.
Mitchell is hopeful that the Christiana taxi park will be expanded in the coming months.
“[As] soon as the (feasibility) report is available and the funding is found, we will be able to do what it is that we can do. I would assure the public that we would try to do our best to have everything ready in time for the Christmas period because we know what is to be done there,” he said.
President of the North East Manchester Taxi Association, Ruby Parton, said a meeting has been scheduled for next Monday to meet with head of the Manchester police Superintendent Shane McCalla and taxi operators.
“It is a bit harsh when they get ticketed when they park on the sidewalk. They were told that they could have parked on the sidewalk as long as not obstructing traffic, but it is not working,” she said.