Wed | Jan 17, 2018

Quallo in the hot seat - Commish summoned by Montague to discuss Palisadoes fiasco, murders

Published:Monday | January 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Commissioner of Police George Quallo.

Police Commissioner George Quallo will be in the hot seat today when he meets with Minister of National Security Robert Montague to explain his handling of the fiasco that allowed rowdy patrons attending a party to slow access to the Norman Manley International Airport for several hours on New Year's Day.

Quallo, government sources revealed, will also have to outline to Montague measures being implemented by the police to stem the spate of murders recorded less than 10 days into the new year.

"We've had 30 murders in the first six days of the year, a government insider revealed.

Statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) confirmed that 25 persons were killed in the first four days of 2018. St Andrew led the way with seven murders, followed by Clarendon with five, and St Catherine with four.

Last year, the police recorded 1,616 murders, the highest since 2009, when Jamaica recorded 1,680 killings.

The Ministry of National Security, in a statement on the weekend, acknowledged that Montague had received a report from Quallo on the traffic gridlock that blocked the Palisadoes road - which leads to the airport - for several hours and had "summoned the commissioner" to a meeting at his St Andrew offices.

Quallo's initial report, which was delivered to Montague's office a day after the incident, was rejected by the minister as "inadequate and disappointing".

Yesterday, Montague declined to elaborate on the planned meeting, which is scheduled to start at 9 o'clock.

"We are going to discuss the report he has written," the minister told The Gleaner.

The meeting comes as law-enforcement sources say the police commissioner is coming under pressure to take action, amid reports that one of the promoters of the party being blamed for the traffic pile-up is a police constable.

Montague confirmed, too, that the latest murder statistics will also be on the agenda.

"It is cause for concern," he insisted.

The Palisadoes road became a virtual parking lot for hundreds of patrons attending the popular party series Sandz last Monday. As a result, scores of persons trying to get to the airport to catch their flights were delayed for several hours.

According to reports and videos posted on social media, some desperate passengers walked to the airport, some with luggage on their heads, while others hired motorcyclists while being mocked and ridiculed by partygoers.

Jamaican officials have confirmed that a British Airways flight crew arrived at the airport three hours after the aircraft was scheduled to depart, triggering concerns that there could be "significant financial implications".

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com