Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Gordon Robinson | Don’t be like sonny

Published:Sunday | February 5, 2023 | 12:10 AM
Hours before the end of a partial amnesty, hundreds of people swarm the road outside the Kingston and St Andrew Traffic Court at 2 Melbourne Road on Tuesday January 31. The new Road Traffic Act took effect February 1.
Hours before the end of a partial amnesty, hundreds of people swarm the road outside the Kingston and St Andrew Traffic Court at 2 Melbourne Road on Tuesday January 31. The new Road Traffic Act took effect February 1.

It’s disgusting how Jamaican winner-takes-all politics encourages, embraces and entrenches Opposition Parties’ sycophantic support of indiscipline.

Readers still unconvinced regarding the utter hopelessness of Jamaica’s ability to progress or prosper under its British imposed Westminster governance should take a long, hard look at recent antics by Opposition Spokesman on Transport, Mikael Phillips. As a betting man I’d wager dollars to donuts that Mikael, based on his public record, is a politician of the highest calibre. I also believe, on the same evidence, that he’s a man of the highest personal integrity, class and intellect. In fact, he’s on my very short list of candidates for future Jamaican Prime Minister.

Come we go chant down Babylon one more time.

(Come we go chant down Babylon)

Come we go chant down Babylon one more time.

For dem saaf! Yes, dem saaf’(ah-yoy!)

Dem saaf! Yes, dem saaf! (ah-yoy!)

So come we go chant down Babylon one more time!

Saaf? How saaf? His recent groveling at the altar of indiscipline; his casting of national interest to the wind; his blatantly thoughtless calling for yet another amnesty for habitual law breakers (“transport operators”) defies any explanation other than having seen the madding crowds and counted potential votes he elected to beg or buy them with mouth-cut empathy.


Why else would he look so uncomfortable in Parliament calling his requested amnesty an “extension of time”? Extension? Really? SERIOUSLY? Let’s forget the ugly, unnecessary undermining of law and order such an “extension” (in reality a bowing to indiscipline’s dictates) would signal. The bottom line is “extensions” to facilitate indiscipline just don’t work!

Speaking of betting I bet Mikael has never been to Caymanas Park on a race day. If he has he would’ve witnessed firsthand the ludicrously manipulated delay of the start of races to facilitate late bettors. No matter how much time is allocated between races, too many punters continue to wait until the horses are being loaded to place their bets. Yet the Promoter continues to make a mockery of published post times with inane, inept, inelegantly stage-managed delays until post times become, like expiration dates on bully beef cans, mere suggestion.

So, should Government accede to Mikael’s request for an “extension” (say for 60 days) the guaranteed result would be a lull in activity for 58 days before yet another mad crush of recalcitrant ticket holders again obstructing traffic and clogging up the court system. So let’s draw a line in the sand NOW and chart a pathway through the chaos with as little dislocation as possible. That pathway must include a radical change in the culture of enforcement of traffic laws. Long delayed politically inconvenient de-corruption of the police force (as much as is practicable) must now be given emergency attention.

I will not live in a country where I must tolerate vote buying arguments like the one I heard Mikael propound on radio that taxi drivers can’t afford to pay. So I will NOT tolerate these inane arguments nor will I allow them to pass unanswered. I don’t care if taxi drivers can’t afford to pay. They didn’t care about my or other law-abiding motorists’ safety as they recklessly chased money and gathered thousands of tickets in that pursuit then deliberately refused to pay those tickets.

Speaking of law-abiding motorists, I acknowledge this category includes some who get the odd ticket and have good reason for not having paid. It’s also a fact that the old system often threw up notifications to police of “unpaid tickets” that have already been paid. I know of too many horror stories whose victims have included friends and clients. Long before this latest hullabaloo, decent law-abiding citizens have been arrested on false charges of unpaid tickets. For example, a colleague’s client was held at a police station then transported from Kingston to Falmouth in a police vehicle surrounded by armed-to-the-teeth policemen who made several stops on route to ensure they arrived in Falmouth after court closing time. Fortunately, we were able to get a message to the Magistrate (at the time) who kindly kept court open until well after 5.00pm when the disappointed police arrived with the accused citizen they had planned to keep overnight unless encouraged not to do so.

The charge turned out to be incapable of proof so the Magistrate immediately freed the prisoner. So I know what can happen under this rotten system often “enforced” by corrupt cops. Still I won’t accept another of Mikael’s facile arguments about it not only being taxi drivers with tickets who are “inconvenienced” by the system of late payments but also decent people with one or two tickets.

That’s a political trick using misdirection to distract us from the blindingly obvious. If taxi drivers didn’t deliberately accumulate thousands of tickets by reckless, undisciplined lawbreaking, decent people, once dealing with honest policemen, would have no trouble paying tickets early or late. That some “decent people” are inconvenienced as well is a fact of life everywhere. It could be better addressed but for thuggish louts’ (masquerading as “transport operators”) rampant indiscipline on the roads facilitated by corrupt or under-resourced cops. These thugs must be given one message delivered with one political voice. STOP! Or be taken off the road.

At some point Jamaican politics must be willing to prioritize law, order and discipline. All else is secondary or Jamaica’s future is bleak. Going forward, this will depend on more than a new law but also committed, focused, resourced and trained enforcement combined with an efficient justice system. Time come! If taxi drivers want to withdraw service rather than obey the law then I say good riddance. Let’s see how THAT works for them.

Hang on a sec. Here’s a three-step plan we can all try:

1. Drive as carefully and lawfully as you can

2. If you get a ticket PAY it and thereafter drive with your receipt in the car in case some enthusiastic policeman alleges it’s unpaid.

3. If you can’t (or won’t) pay the ticket accept the legal consequences.

DO NOT demand special treatment. Every system has flaws BUT if taxi drivers had followed (or been forced to follow) those simple rules of discipline NONE of us, decent or indecent, would be suffering the current chaos.

Dem want I; dem want I

come a’ dem funeral.

Dem claim say, dem claim say

dem a’ di Ginn(er)al!

At the beginning of Reggae Month, it must be appropriate to celebrate lyrics coming from the hearts of two of Reggae’s most revolutionary social commentators, international legends Robert “Bob” Marley and Peter McIntosh. Bob’s Chant down Babylon and Peter’s Burial were two of many examples of their seminal work in that arena.

Neither Bob nor Peter was in the habit of calling a spade a shovel. So let’s use this time to honour their spirits by doing as they did. It’s incontrovertible truth that so-called “transport operators”, bred and nurtured by unimaginative, weak political directorates and corrupt policemen, are to blame for this blot on civilization now playing out at our traffic courts.

They MUST be brought to heel. To do this, we must abandon desperate politicking and join with Government in taking this long overdue first step. Don’t be like Sonny Corleone. Remember what happened to him? Don’t allow naked political ambition to cause you to make Sonny’s mistake. Transport Operators are watching like hawks for any sign of political fissure so they can wriggle through it or snuggle up in it.

They won’t be as grateful as anxiety driven politicos may hope. Sonny’s fate at a Toll booth awaits PNP at polling stations no matter how brown their noses become playing at being transport operators’ pal. Peter didn’t attend Bob’s funeral. So, not having been invited to this unholy wedding between PNP and lawlessness, even if he could, he wouldn’t attend PNP’s electoral funeral either!

Peace and Love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Send feedback to