Mon | Apr 23, 2018

Terrifying and costly - desperate visitors fork out big bucks for bike ride to catch plane

Published:Wednesday | January 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott
The Norman Manley International Airport arrival area was bursting at the seams as passengers waited several hours before families and friends could transport them out of the chaos.
Traffic gridlock created by unruly motorists attending the New Year's Day party made life difficult for Jamaicans and vistors alike desperate to reach or leave the Norman Manley International Airport.
Patrons attending Sandz gathered along the Palisadoes road as vehiclular traffic was brought to a standstill for hours because of the unruly behaviour patrons.
A crowded Norman Manley International Airport.
7th Harbour on the Palisadoes strip, where the party was held.
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As much as US$500 was being charged on Monday by motorcyclists who took advantage of the desperation of holiday visitors headed to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston but who were stuck in traffic and feared that they would miss their flights.

There was total chaos on the Palisadoes strip, which leads to the airport, as patrons attending a party contributed to a massive build-up of traffic along the two-lane corridor.

The gridlock forced some travellers to abandon their families and friends who were transporting them to the airport and instead opt for a less comfortable ride on a chilly night, determined to reach the airport.

"We took two bikes, and that is how we reached, but when we got here, we were told that the flights were delayed because the plane crew, including the pilot, were stuck in the traffic," a frequent visitor, who identified herself as Miss Vye, told The Gleaner.

At approximately 1 a.m. yesterday, when the traffic had been reduced significantly, one of the motorcyclists, 'Juju', said that he made several trips with anxious travellers to the airport. He said that he took advantage of the situation after realising that they were willing to fork out the greenbacks to reach to the airport.

 

NO SAFETY GEAR

 

Juju told The Gleaner that although he had no safety gear for his pillion passengers, it was not a factor that weighed on their minds as they were desperate to reach the airport.

"One trip alone mi collect US$500. The lady seh, 'See it deh. A this mi have.' She just hop and seh, 'Ride!'," Juju said, pointing out that during the 15-minute trip, he cautioned the woman to "hold on tight".

"Me kinda feel it for them still, you know, because a lot of them come and them never expect this, but desperate times call for desperate action ... . A 13 trip me mek, and me grateful for the likkle change, yuh nuh," he said.

At the airport, there was a noticeable build-up of persons, including children, who had to wait for several hours after their arrival for pick-up, with not even the usual charter taxis in sight.

But one woman who had just arrived on a motorbike was in tears.

"Can you imagine I didn't even get to say a proper goodbye to my family? I had to jump on the bike like a Robin to reach here. Don't you see the country gone?" she asked before walking into he airport with hand luggage.

Many persons complained about how frustrating it was for them to be in the traffic, some taking to social media to vent at the party promoters and the police for granting the permit for the party to be held.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com