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Solve MoBay's traffic puzzle

Published:Tuesday | December 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM


On Wednesday, December 14, Montego Bay experienced massive traffic gridlock. The city was shut down between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nothing moved. People were driving through parking lots and shopping centres, and making extra lanes on Howard Cooke Boulevard.

Traffic backed up in every direction, whether it was Montego Freeport, Sangster International Airport, Bogue, or Westgate.

The elements that created the perfect storm are many. First, the highway system in the Montego Bay region cannot support the normal volume of traffic that plies the roads. Added to this, there were two mega cruise ships in port, when the winter tourist season showed an increase in arrivals, happening at a time when there was a normal shift change in the BPO industry. Finally, the normal increase in activity associated with Christmas exacerbated the logjam. By the way, let's not forget security forces on patrol were involved in doing their best to keep a lid in the upsurge of criminal activity in the region.

We need Government to employ an independent organisation to develop a 20-year transportation plan that will deal with the anticipated growth of the city over that period and beyond.

It has been my experience that each of our members of parliament, our ministries of government, our statutory corporations, our local government authority, and our private-sector organisations seem to have their own agendas, trying to protect their own turf instead of approaching the issue objectively.

Therefore, I suggest that the services of an international organisation, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, be contracted to create plans for a series of transportation systems that would address the problem independently and without bias.

This effort will have negative and positive political consequences, such as a major reduction of the route taxis in favour of a proper metro bus and train service. A major multimodal transportation centre would necessitate the removal of people occupying the railway lands.

We have to address the needs of our commercial and commuter traffic, serving all the elements of our city, and provide access to expand the city in the Queen of Spain Valley, away from our coastal lands.

I am, however, very confident that our political, governmental and civil leadership will have the tenacity, vision and maturity to embrace this independent approach as the way forward.

The time is now to make this a reality. While our leaders are doing an impressive job in creating opportunities of growth, let's ensure that the infrastructure is developed to support those outcomes.


Montego Bay, St James