Sun | Apr 30, 2017

Packed to the trunk- Police concerned about dangerous overloading

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2015 | 3:00 AMChad Bryan

The island's traffic police have taken issue with taxi operators across the island who cram numerous students commuting between school and home into their vehicles. The students, who are sometimes at the kindergarten or basic-school stage, are piled into station wagons made to accommodate a maximum of four passengers.

In the peak school commute hours, early morning or late afternoon, youngsters on their way to and from school squeeze themselves into the uncomfortable travelling spaces.

There has been graphic evidence of this dangerous practice. In a video which is over two minutes long which was posted to video-sharing website YouTube last year, at least 10 students cram into a Toyota station wagon with white plates being operated as a taxi.

In the video, shot somewhere in rural Jamaica, the trunk of the car is opened while the driver directs the students - based on their size - to fit into it, while others find room inside the cabin area.

 

'LAPPING UP'

 

It is unclear how the students fit into the heavily tinted motor vehicle; undoubtedly, however, some would have had to sit in another student's lap.

This poses a threat to the safety of the vehicle's passengers as well as other road users, as the police are well aware.

"There are so many different things that can happen. We are talking about a vehicle that is overloaded. It is carrying what it is not designed to carry, so there are many issues that can arise from that. A driver may not be in the proper position to manoeuvre the vehicle because he has two or three people pushing over on him when he should have free space to operate," said head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen.

The senior policeman said that this overcrowding, with persons riding in the trunk, does not only happen with students but also adults. He explained that this will not be tolerated by the police and, where this is observed, the necessary action will be taken.

"The police have been targeting these vehicles where the overloading is taking place. It is not something we tolerate. I have mandated our traffic men and police in general, not just the traffic officers but police in general, once it is observed we will take action," Allen said.

He could not give exact locations where these activities occur more frequently than others, saying that it takes place all across the island.