Taxi association head wants suspension of new road licences
PARTON… you can’t be giving people road licence and there is no place to put them (Photo: Kasey Williams)

CHRISTIANA, Manchester — President of the North East Manchester Taxi Association Ruby Parton is calling on the Transport Authority to suspend the issuance of new road licences terminating in Christiana until provisions are made to accommodate parking for more taxis here.

"You can't be giving people road licences and there is no place to put them; you just take people money. It is like building a house without a roof — you can't do that," she told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday following a meeting a day earlier with politicians, the police and the Transport Authority.

"You apply for a road licence and [get it]. The route you ask for, [if] there is no place for parking the car if you go out there, your car gone on wrecker; it doesn't make any sense… No more licences should be issued to Christiana because those are the cars that are coming into the town and don't have a park. I said it [in the meeting] and some of the other presidents weren't happy," she pointed out.

Her comments followed last Thursday's protest by disgruntled taxi operators over what the cabbies claim is harassment by the police in Christiana where there is inadequate parking.

The Christiana taxi park, which is to be expanded. (Kasey Williams)

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 also accused the police of physically assaulting him while he was in their custody at the Christiana Police Station last Wednesday.

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

The taxis previously used a private property as a parking area but that 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.

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)

The parking arrangement, said Parton, is not suitable.

"There is no place for them to park right now and at first what we had said [was], 'Park along the side but don't obstruct the traffic' — [there was] no thought of where people would walk. You can't walk on the [sidewalk]; that means the passenger would have to walk in the middle of the road," she said.

"... To build a car park now is not an overnight thing. That is going to take months, and more cars are coming on the road every day," she added.

Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell and Member of Parliament for Manchester North Eastern Audley Shaw both told the Observer last Thursday that a solution to the issue is to expand the Christiana taxi park to alleviate congestion and concerns of taxi operators.

Parton said the police have a duty to maintain order in Christiana.

"They can't just stand up and fold their hands and let them [taxi operators] fill up the road. Their job is to clear the main road because it is not just taxis driving on it, there are private cars too," she said.

BY KASEY WILLIAMS Observer staff reporter kaseyw@jamaicaobserver.com

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