Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Montegonians fuming at city’s congestion

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Members of JN Circle, St James, raise a toast to the longevity of the social club and the parish to culminate the first meeting of the service club. The organisation has been established as a space for JN members to advocate for issues to be addressed in their communities and, similarly, deliver projects and services to their publics.
Severino Cunningham, member of the JN Circle St James, makes a point during the first meeting of the service club at JN Financial Service, Catherine Hall in the parish.

Road issues are weighing heavily on the minds of Montegonians, some of whom expressed their frustration and even fear of undisciplined motorists and unabated road crashes at the inaugural meeting of the JN Circle, St James, held recently at the JN Financial Services centre in Catherine Hall in the western city.

JN Circle is a set of islandwide service clubs being established by The Jamaica National Group to offer its members a space in which they can advocate for issues to be addressed in their communities and, similarly, deliver projects and services to their publics.

Businessman Owen Bowen said the indiscipline among motorists contributes to the traffic snarl clogging the city’s thoroughfares on a daily basis.

“Some people just don’t know how to drive. They just come and they bore and on top of that, they don’t know how to say sorry. They have no manners!” he said in disgust, noting that many of the same unruly motorists often seek to use offensive language to other road users who disagree with their behaviour.

Bowen insisted that order needs to be restored by enforcing the law to reduce congestion in the city.

“Some people drive too slow, and I’m not saying that you should drive fast, but you are to maintain a certain speed; and the trucks need to have a designated time when they are to drive. Even though the law exists, it is not enforced in regard to trucks that carry heavy loads and tractors. They just drive on the roads at any time. They should have a special time after certain hours,” he recommended.

Another businessman, Severino Cunningham, maintained that although manners are lacking, better education of motorists would not only reduce the bottleneck, but also the high number of road crashes, especially along the parish’s so-called ‘Elegant Corridor’ from Spot Valley to the city. There were 36 fatalities or 12 more road deaths in St James in 2019, compared to 2018. So far this year, three people have been killed.

“For example, you’ll be in traffic and someone just blocks you to get where they want to go; or cut in and out of lanes. If they had the information and the knowledge, they would better respect the road laws,” he argued.

He is anticipating the implementation of the new Road Traffic Act and regulations passed in 2019 to ease some of the problems.

“I’m not saying that they (Government) make it easy for you to get a licence, but you know that anybody can just go get a licence,” Cunningham said.

Training needed

He said there is need for more theoretical knowledge and practical training to be infused in the education offered to both drivers of automobiles and motorcycles.

“Compare the licence [process] to getting a firearm. Not just anyone can get a firearm. You have to go through a particular process and training before you can get a licence to own a firearm,” he said, noting that motor vehicles are just as deadly as firearms.

He acknowledged that he is sometimes fearful driving on the roads as a result of some of the behaviour and practices he observes among drivers.

Bowen noted that addressing the condition of some parochial roads could lighten the burden on arterial thoroughfares, pointing out that the traffic from Flanker into the city often presents the worst portion of the bottleneck.

He is anticipating that the touted Montego bypass will alleviate much of the problems Montegonians now face. Work is expected to begin on the bypass next financial year. However, in the meantime, he thinks the St James Municipal Corporation can be more careful in how it approves projects to ensure they don’t allow developments that worsen the city’s traffic dilemma.

“When they are building, they shouldn’t leave out parking spaces, because sometimes people have nowhere to park and so everything (the streets) just jam up,” he noted.