‘Don’t blame us’ - Vendors reject claim that they contribute to the daily traffic gridlock in Manor Park
It's an everyday problem - a train of bumpers snaking its way through Manor Park, St Andrew, as a traffic gridlock settles on that section of Constant Spring Road.
The problem is reportedly compounded by the unruly Coaster and minibus operators who ignore the rules of the road, and a group of vendors who have made a section of Manor Park their market.
The situation has reached crisis proportion for one resident who, last week, went public with an appeal to Member of Parliament for the area Karl Samuda and Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams for help.
"We are sick and tired of the vending at the Norbrook Drive intersection and the bus stop at upper Manor Park Plaza. These activities are clear dangers to users of the bus shelters who are often forced on to the roadway as the bus stop is overrun with vendors," fumed the resident in a letter to The Gleaner.
"I have often wondered if these people are untouchables as successive administrations have never been able to do anything to enforce the laws against them," complained the resident.
"How could such an important corridor be neglected for so long? It is an important exit and entry point into the city, yet it is clogged with traffic at all times with minibus drivers overtaking dangerously to get to their respective destinations," the resident added.
Vendors not a problem
But last Friday, several vendors in the area rejected the claim that they are partly to blame for the traffic congestion.
"The vendors don't have anything at all to do with the traffic. If you look, this is the roundabout and most of the times the traffic start from Norbrook and from Old Stony Hill Road," argued Kirk Brooks, who has been selling in Manor Park since 1990.
According to Brooks, he pays $6,000 annually and an additional $500 weekly to the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation to sell in that space.
"The vendors are not a problem to traffic. If that was so they would have moved us long time, and that's not hard because we are just pawns in their hands," said Brooks, as he argued that a better option would be to widen the roads in the area.
"If you don't have your $6,000 you can't sell out here," said Oshadi Wade, who runs a stall near a usually congested bridge in the area.
She confessed that her stall once posed problems as motorists would stop to purchase cigarettes and other items from her.
"But if they do that, police ticket them, so I beg my customers not to stop here. When they pull up I ask them to come down a little more and then I walk go sell them," said Wade.
"Listen, if anybody is to cause the traffic to build up here it must be the Coaster bus operators in the morning because they don't want to wait so they form double lines and sometimes block the entrance to the plaza. That is the only thing. No vendors causing any traffic pile-up here," added Howard Simpson, who also operates in the area.
A senior cop agreed with the vendors that they were not the cause of the almost twice daily traffic backlog.
"To be frank, the number of vehicles and the space that the vehicles have to drive in that area ... is just not enough," said the cop who is based at the Constant Spring Police Station and who asked not to be named.
"Generally, there is not enough road to accommodate the volume of vehicles that pass through that area so we are going to have problems. Every morning we have issues. We have to be putting policemen at particular areas in order to pull the traffic. If we don't do that is just pure chaos.
"It's not so much the vendors or busmen, it's just that the area is not big enough for the vehicles," added the cop as he pointed to the entrance to the Immaculate Conception High School as one of the bottlenecks on the busy roadway.