Thu | May 28, 2020

Empty downtown shocks last-gasp commuter

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2020 | 12:23 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
A member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force reprimands men unloading agricultural produce in the vicinity of Coronation Market in downtown Kingston at 8:30 Wednesday night. An all-island curfew under the Disaster Risk Management Act took effect at 8 p.m. yesterday. The 10-hour nightly restriction will run for seven days.
A member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force reprimands men unloading agricultural produce in the vicinity of Coronation Market in downtown Kingston at 8:30 Wednesday night. An all-island curfew under the Disaster Risk Management Act took effect at 8 p.m. yesterday. The 10-hour nightly restriction will run for seven days.

Holding the face of his smartphone outward, Romario Hastings looked with wonder at photos he had captured of an eerily near-empty downtown Kingston minutes before the 8 p.m. start to the islandwide curfew imposed by the Government to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The curfew will run from April 1 to April 8 between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At 7:47 p.m., Hastings, who was the only passenger on the No. 3 Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus parked in South Parade before its departure to Portmore, St Catherine, explained that he would usually have to jostle with other commuters to get into one of the yellow units to get home.

Last night, he smiled as he could choose any seat he wanted in the otherwise empty vehicle.

“A di first mi see downtown so empty at this time. ... Right now, mi can siddung anyweh,” he told The Gleaner.

Marlon, the driver of the bus, indicated as well that downtown was usually still bustling at 8 p.m. during weekdays.

LAST LAUGH

In the bus bay, a grouping of JUTC drivers cracked jokes among each other as they marvelled at the limited number of passengers to transport.

A prominent feature last night were teams of police ushering commuters home.

Approximately 8:35 p.m., a police pickup on patrol in the vicinity of Coronation Market chased vendors, apparently unmoved by the curfew, unloading produce brought in last night.

“Mi shouldn’t affi tell you seh you can’t stay here suh. Come, man! lock up the truck and leave!” a policeman bellowed.

They complied and began repacking items into the trucks.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com