Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Tolled by thugs - Motorists being forced to pay to enter and leave shortcut

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Thugs collect toll for motorists to drive through their Riverton City community during peak-hour traffic on Spanish Town Road.
Thugs collect toll for motorists to drive through their Riverton City community during peak-hour traffic on Spanish Town Road.
Thugs collect toll for motorists to drive through their Riverton City community during peak-hour traffic on Spanish Town Road.
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A dirt track used by some motorists who want to escape sections of peak-hour traffic along Spanish Town Road in the Corporate Area has been 'tolled' by a group of thugs, who demand they pay $100 to enter the road and a further $100 to exit.

With frequent gridlock in the evenings caused by the number of vehicles plying Spanish Town Road heading towards the Mandela Highway, where construction is in progress, some motorists have been turning on to the road used to access the Riverton City dump and then making a right turn on to a dirt road, which runs through a section of the Riverton community, before exiting back on to Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of Alex Imports Limited.

But motorists who use this escape route recently found barriers erected at two sections of the road, with men demanding that the $100 toll be paid at both points.

"For the first leg (the entrance), the young men were understanding when we said we didn't have any money, but at the second part, the men were very adamant and said, 'Pay or go back!'," one female motorist told The Sunday Gleaner.

"There were also three women seated out there who, after we paid, said 'A so it go, Mama. We have fi live,'" added the motorist.

She argued that she and others pay the 'toll' because it is a small price to get away from some of the slow-moving traffic in the evenings.

"The exposure to danger was not good, but it certainly helps with cutting out traffic," she reasoned.

 

RISKY BUSINESS

 

But head of the St Andrew South Police, Superintendent Arthur Brown, has labelled it "crazy and just ridiculous" that motorists are paying to subject themselves to possible danger.

"I was not previously aware of this, but I will be looking into it," Brown said. "It is a volatile community, so I would advise persons not to drive through there."

Brown said while he understands the traffic congestion along Spanish Town Road during peak hours, it would be more shrewd for persons to drive through Portmore than to use this dirt road.

"You can't even traverse along that road at any speed; you have to be crawling to escape the potholes and other nuisances in there," Brown explained.

"So motorists should not endanger themselves and let us have a murder or robbery to investigate. It is better they pay the toll through Portmore."

Last week, a Sunday Gleaner news team ventured on to the dirt road, along with several other motorists, including the driver of a Coaster bus loaded with passengers.

There was no 'toll' collector as the team travelled on to the dirt road, but on approaching the exit, men manning barriers placed in the path demanded $100 for them to be moved.

This area marks the second case to have emerged in recent weeks of thugs charging persons to drive through their community.

Late last month, it came to light that motorists who use the main road from Cambridge through the community of Retrieve in St James had to pay gangsters to use the road.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com