THE EDITOR, Sir:
It is unfortunate that in Jamaica the only way to get a response from those in authority is to block the roads, threaten or 'get on bad'. I hope this letter is taken as such, as I tried to get the attention of the Mandeville Parish Council and specifically the mayor, Mrs Brenda Ramsay. I even tried the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica, but to no avail.
On September 2, 2013, I visited the beautiful town of Mandeville, to assist my mother as she underwent outpatient eye surgery. After the surgery, we drove around to find a restaurant to have lunch. We noticed one with which my mother was familiar, and found a spot to park just outside.
After having lunch we came out and found the vehicle clamped, and a notice had been placed under the wiper blade. The notice indicated that we were parked without the appropriate permit, with a number affixed to call. How was I supposed to know about not parking there? On taking another look, we noticed the sign that was there read, 'Permit Parking Mon-Friday' and the time. This, as far as we were concerned, meant we could park there. After calling, we were directed to the same restaurant where we had lunch, to pay a fine of $2,500.
Under duress, I paid, and then called the number again to advise the person that he should come to release my vehicle, and that my mother was in discomfort. He came about 15 minutes later. I enquired why the sign (which was not strategically placed) did not indicate clearly the conditions of parking and where such a permit could be had, especially for persons not familiar with the area, and also that the sign could be misinterpreted as 'allowed to park' during the hours stated.
He pointed to a spot where he said 'si di sign deh'. I turned to look where he was pointing, but there was no sign. I again faced him to indicate that based on the fact that there was no sign, I should not have been ticketed. I heard a rattling sound behind me, and when I turned around, I noticed a security guard placing a sign at the front of the restaurant. This one informed you where you could buy the permit - I was now livid.
I vigorously tried to establish who was responsible for the sign, and why such a sign was not there before, and why was it being placed after an offence, only to find each party pointing at the other.
A bystander commented that the restaurant was responsible, and he stated that 'a long time dis a gwaan'. When I enquired at the restaurant, the attendant was not willing to provide any information, claiming she didn't know the telephone number of the owner of the establishment.
I subsequently took up the sign, after establishing that no one was responsible for it, and took it to the Parish Council Office in order to get some answers. I explained the whole situation to the mayor's secretary and she was very sympathetic, but suggested I write the mayor, as she was unable to see me at the time. I left the sign by the door of the mayor.
Wrote to mayor
A few days later, I sent an email to the mayor informing her of the incident, and suggested ways in which such incidents could be avoided. I also suggested that there may be some collusion going on. To my surprise, Mayor Ramsay responded within hours, expressing regret and apologising for the unfortunate incident. She promised to have the manager investigated and get back in touch with me.
I felt hopeful, and one week later after not hearing from the mayor's office, I called. The secretary suggested that I send the mayor another mail to remind her. So I did, and unlike the previous occasion, I got no response. Two weeks passed, during which time I spoke to the mayor's secretary twice, and did not receive a satisfactory response.
I then turned to the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica for some help. After speaking to the representative, I sent her a mail detailing the incident and checked to see if the mail was received. I was promised that someone will get in touch with me. I waited a week and called back. I got an apology and subsequently got a mail indicating that the Manchester Parish Council was contacted. More than a week has passed and I have not heard from any of the parties mentioned above.
I am, therefore, forced to use this medium to try and get the attention of someone in authority, as I feel like I was held up and robbed, and that the institution established to protect me, a citizen of this country, is failing to even adequately deal with the matter. I am certain I am not the only person who has fallen victim of this 'plot', and certainly will not be the last and, as such, want to make it known so others can be aware. Also, I am still insisting that I be refunded the money taken under such conditions.