Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Cops, Transport Authority blamed for gas station chaos

Published:Saturday | February 29, 2020 | 12:16 AMDanae Hyman/Staff Reporter
Gregory Chung, president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association, at a press conference at King’s Plaza on Saturday.
Gregory Chung, president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association, at a press conference at King’s Plaza on Saturday.

President of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA), Gregory Chung, has blamed the takeover of service stations by lawless bus and taxi operators on the police’s failure to entrench discipline.

His comment follows growing concern over protocol breaches at service stations one week after the Heaven’s Fesco outlet went up in flames two Fridays ago. An investigation is still under way but it is believed that free-flowing fuel at the Mandeville station might have been a factor.

According to the president, service stations, particularly those in towns, suffer from severe congestion from motorists who are not bona fide customers.

Chung disclosed that gas stations employees face verbal and physical abuse when they attempt to stop rogues from using properties as pick-up hubs.

“The police have, in the past, and still assist our dealers in policing, but it is really inadequate and our members are left to fend for themselves most of the times,” he said.

Chung said that the managers of some gas stations were also facing difficulty because even when the police intervened, the lawbreakers returned shortly after with a vengeance.

“We would like all of Jamaica to understand that the forefront of gas stations is not a public thoroughfare to be used by all, however they feel. The use of gas stations as a public transportation centre, meeting area, shelter from rain or sun, loitering, vending area and all other non-gas station business must stop,” said Chung.

Rules being broken

“People in this day and age are still coming on the pumps with cigarettes lit, they are still refusing to turn their engines off. They are still using their cell phones and all the rules are being broken,” Chung said

Last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned that that a zero-tolerance clampdown on disorder would take effect early this year in relation to lawless taxi operators in the Corporate Area and other urban centres.

Derrick Thompson, vice-president of the JGRA, however, cast blame on the Transport Authority for the overcrowding of gas stations by taxi operators because of the policy of issuing road licences for routes without a designated parking facility for the public transportation.

Last Friday, disaster struck at the Heaven’s Fesco service station in Mandeville, Manchester, when an apparent leakage of fuel at a gas pump triggered a major fire that caused seven people to be hospitalised with injuries.

One person, 59-year-old mechanic Daniel Farquharson, succumbed to third-degree burns.