Police, taxi associations to meet over harassment claims in Christiana
The Christiana taxi park, which is to be expanded (Photo: Kasey Williams)

CHRISTIANA, Manchester — Taxi associations and the police are scheduled to meet on Monday here following Thursday's protest by disgruntled operators over what the cabbies claim is harassment by the police in this south-central town where there is inadequate parking.

President of the North East Manchester Taxi Association, Ruby Parton is hoping that the outcome of the meeting with head of the Manchester police, Superintendent Shane McCalla, will resolve the long-standing issue facing 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 [they are] not obstructing traffic, but it is not working," she told journalists on Thursday during a protest by taxi operators.

File photo of the congested Wildman Street in Christiana, where taxi operators have been instructed to park until the Manchester Municipal Corporation expands the Christiana taxi park. (Photo: Gregory Bennett)

Scores of operators downed trees and used debris to block a section of the Succeed main road in north-east Manchester 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… 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.

The Manchester police have declined to comment on the matter.

Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell speaking with journalists on Thursday. (Photo: Kasey Williams)

This is the second protest in six months as in March taxi operators blocked a section of the Succeed main road near Christiana to protest against inadequate parking.

The taxi operators previously used a private property as a parking area but it is now under construction for a commercial building.

They say the parking arrangement on Wildman Street, commonly referred to as Market Street, is dangerous.

The Christiana Police Station where taxi operator Jermaine Cunningham accused the police of physically assaulting him. (Photo: Kasey Williams)

Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell and Member of Parliament (MP) for Manchester North Eastern Audley Shaw say a solution to the issue is to expand the Christiana taxi park 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.

Businessman Valenton Wint showing land which he proposed to sublet to the Manchester Municipal Corporation for a taxi parking lot. (Photo: Kasey Williams)

Shaw told the Jamaica Observer that he was 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.

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 — if between now and the end of October the funding is found. 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.

A downed tree blocks the Succeed main road near Christiana in Manchester, Thursday.
President of the North East Manchester Taxi Association Ruby Parton speaking with journalists on Thursday. (Photo: Kasey Williams)
A tearful Jermaine Cunningham speaking with journalists on Thursday. (Photo: Kasey Williams)
SHAW... I am working with the Transport Authority and the Manchester Parish Council to urgently expand the existing transportation centre
BY KASEY WILLIAMS Observer staff reporter kaseyw@jamaicaobserver.com

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