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Police to tour Corporate Area Sunday, fine-tune traffic plans - Opposition raps transport minister over jitters in transport sector

Published:Saturday | August 31, 2019 | 12:00 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Sophia Bogle and a child step over a median on Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of Majesty Gardens adjacent to the newly constructed overpass at Portia Simpson Miller Square in St Andrew earlier this week. Bogle complained that no provision has been made for pedestrians along that corridor. This could become a major issue as schools reopen next week.

Come Sunday, the police will embark on a tour of the Corporate Area to examine the tidying up of roadworks being undertaken and to make their final assessments ahead of Monday’s start of the new school year.

The tour will guide their final plan as they continue high-level discussions on how to handle the expected pressure on the commuting public as work continues on several major thoroughfares even as the school year begins.

Speaking with The Gleaner on Thursday, the new head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Dr Kevin Blake, said the police would gauge their preparedness based on assurances from the National Works Agency.

“We will drive through on Sunday to observe the works carried out. Right now, we are doing some planning [internally],” Blake said.

Deputy Superintendent Dahlia Garrick, who heads the police’s Corporate Communications Unit, told The Gleaner that the police would be out in their numbers very early on Monday to monitor the traffic situation.


“The police will provide all the necessary support so that commuters can go about their lawful business. We will be at all the critical corridors and intersections. We are asking the public to adhere to the instructions of the police,” she said.

The police also said that they were aware that some disgruntled taxi operators have been threatening to withdraw their services.

“We have no issue with protest as long as it is done peacefully and not impeding the commuting public,” Garrick said, adding that other agencies have given commitments to assist with ensuring a smooth flow.

The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has indicated that it will be seeking to roll out more than 400 buses to meet commuter demand, adding that it has taken note of reports of a possible strike by some public transport operators next week.

Meanwhile, the opposition spokesman on transport and works, Mikael Phillips, is expressing concern about the state of the transport sector, both in the Corporate Area and rural Jamaica.

In a statement yesterday, he said that Transport Minister Robert Montague appears to have abandoned the responsibility of ensuring that adequate plans are in place for workers, the disabled, students, and children, particularly those who would will be going out to school for the first time.

He said that there was a worrying situation at the JUTC as up to yesterday, the company had only 319 serviceable units although Monday’s schedule requires 457 units, hence a shortage of 138 units, or almost 10,000 seats.

Phillips also lamented a credible threat of strike action by some transport operators due to the failure of the Government to respond to a fare-increase application over several months and has called on Montague to intervene to prevent industrial unrest in the sector.

“Although I am not pronouncing on the merit of the application, the minister cannot just leave the matter hanging at such a sensitive and important time,” Phillips said.

“He should realise that any problems on Monday morning must be laid squarely at his feet,” Phillips added.