Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Riding for a fall!

Published:Sunday | October 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Reckless and dangerous driving was the overriding factor that contributed to a truck crushing the left shoulder of a woman who was hanging out the window of a bus travelling in a Jamaica Labour Party motorcade from Kingston to the eastern section of the island in December 2012.

Reports are that a portion of her body was hanging out of the window, and despite the driver's best efforts to get back in line to avoid colliding with an oncoming truck, it crushed her arm and left the victim writhing in agony.

The combination of nonchalance, ignorance, and stupidity, which might have led to that unfortunate life-threatening injury, was very much in evidence in South East St Mary last week Monday, leading up to, during, and after nomination day activities for the constituency.

Bodies protruding from cars, others perched precariously on the back of vehicles or balancing from trucks or vans, persons divided by political loyalties demonstrating a unity of purpose in putting themselves directly in harm's way. For all the inconvenience and frustration caused by the gridlock that crippled Annotto Bay by the time PNP swarmed the town in a show of support for its candidate, it might just have saved some lives.

The competition between supporters of the PNP and the JLP to outdo each other in daring dance and acrobatic moves while hanging out of fast-moving vehicles is as much a concern to the police as it is an accepted part of Jamaica's political-campaigning culture.

"Very dangerous, sir, body protruding is an unlawful act, and so when persons are caught doing, they are prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act. It is wrong and it is dangerous and goes not just against the law, but also the whole tenets of safety," Senior Superintendent of Police, Calvin Allen told Auto last week. "It is one of the things that we look out for, especially when we know activities like these go on and we have people who go on wildly. We expect the transport operators to assist in keeping some level of order because the police will not be able to be along all the corridors," admitted Allen, commanding officer for the traffic and highway division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

In fairness to the police on duty in Annotto Bay on Monday, nothing would have prepared them for the traffic snarl, which caught the entire town by surprise. Consequently, the cops were busy rerouting buses, taxis, and other vehicles to back roads in a bid to resolve the tangled mess.

Even as he stressed that the police would be proactive come Monday, October 30, when Jamaicans go to the polls in the St Andrew South, St Andrew South West, and St Mary South East constituencies, Allen would much prefer if they put greater value on their lives.

"It is a dangerous practice," the senior police officer declared emphatically, lamenting the enthusiasm with which the members of both political really put the "die-hard" into showing support for their choice of party.