Mark Wignall | Horrible decision on party venue
What do you get when you mix eager party promoters trying to maximise crowd size and space, an opaque municipality which can't quite say on what basis it granted the Sandz Party permit at Gunboat Beach and environs, a few police officers overwhelmed, and a huge influx of revellers hyped up on liquor?
Nothing less than traffic-blocking madness. On a public corridor as all-important as the Palisadoes Road and its entry to and exit from the Norman Manley International Airport, it had to have been a most foolish decision to have issued the permission in the first place.
The most glaring result? Visitors and locals travelling to the airport missed their flights, and those in-bound ones leaving the airport and trying to make their way into the city were faced with a blaring, screeching gridlock. Connecting flights missed!
"I cannot say who are those in the JCF (who) signed off on this authorisation," said SSP Calvin Allen, head of the Constabulary Force Traffic Division, when I spoke with him on Tuesday on 'Cliff Hughes Online'. "I certainly would not have made any such approval."
Many Jamaicans are highly stressed, but we tend not to react to that state by crawling off into a corner, reaching for a handkerchief and shedding tears. No, that is not who we are. When we are stressed because the job is not paying enough, or one's partner has eyes on another, or the bills are mounting, or it's just the holidays, we party long and hard all through the night and into the morning.
Who gets in the way creates a problem only for them, we believe, especially when we are impeding their free movement on the public roadway.
On the assumption that the application for permission to hold the dance was not accompanied with any 'enhancements' it is incumbent on the Mayor of Kingston, Mr Delroy Williams, to explain to the nation why this royal cock-up occurred. At the time of writing this column, it is my understanding that the information requested by national security minister Robert Montague, of commissioner of police George Quallo, has been received and has been found 'unacceptable and unprofessional'.
With the head of the Traffic Division in the Jamaica Constabulary Force saying he is unaware of how the police could have given its blessing to holding the party, something just does not add up. We are told that the party was kept last year and, on that basis, the promoters made the assumption that if it was incident-free then, it must mean, in an almost foolish reasoning, that this time around all would be well.
Jamaica has not yet heard about the full repercussions from the international community with connecting flights missed and extra hotel costs due to missed connections.
A few questions, though. Do any members on the party-promoting Sandz have any antecedents in the JCF? Were any funds paid over to the police by the promoters to defray the cost of police work at the venue, and how were these payments made? If payments were made, were they directed to the authorised police branch, the security ministry or some other government department?
I am looking forward to reading the report provided by Commissioner Quallo. He, of course, ought to know that the quality of any such report will reflect directly upon him and his professionalism, or the lack thereof.
We already know that many of our people are deeply immersed in undisciplined behaviour. As example, on New Year's Eve, gunmen from harsh inner-city communities popped off a few at the stroke of midnight, but so also did wealthy uptown men in the multimillion-dollar mansions.
This is very dangerous behaviour. Added to that is the stark sight that the international community now has of Jamaica. A little 'chacka-chacka' country where its authorities give official permission to keep a party so that the roadway to the capital city's main airport is blocked for hours, and airlines and international business are affected.
The full impact is yet to be assessed, and I suspect that we will pay heavily for this damn foolishness. Mayor Williams, Commissioner Quallo, what more can you tell us?