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Taxi threat - PM vows to quell traffic chaos in town centres

Published:Monday | November 25, 2019 | 12:30 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
JLP President Andrew Holness rings the bell as his final act following his presentation at the National Arena on Sunday.
JLP President Andrew Holness rings the bell as his final act following his presentation at the National Arena on Sunday.

If Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ resolve to curtail the traffic chaos created by lawless motorists in town centres holds true, the widespread indiscipline in the Corporate Area and other urban centres will come to a halt.

While acknowledging the right of persons to earn a living in the taxi industry, Holness singled out that group yesterday, warning that a zero-tolerance clampdown on disorder would take effect early next year.

“I want the taxi men and road users as well to appreciate that there can be no prosperity in chaos and disorder,” Holness declared to cheering Labourites at yesterday’s 76th annual conference at the National Arena in Kingston.

The prime minister warned that motorists who breached the Road Traffic Act with impunity by disobeying traffic lights would face stiff fines with the introduction of new technology to monitor breaches.

“Next year, there will be a programme to have smart technology, including cameras, at every single stop light in the Corporate Area,” Holness divulged, adding, “The law has been modified to allow for prosecution of persons who have been detected by electronic means.”

The prime minister also revealed that he has had talks with Commissioner of Police Antony Anderson with a view to designating “zero-tolerance areas” in the country.

He said that critical public spaces in Jamaica such as Half-Way Tree would be high on the list for attention.

In the past, the police have embarked on several initiatives to bring order to public spaces such as Half-Way Tree and downtown Kingston, but those measures have usually collapsed in a matter of days or weeks.

In 2011, then no-nonsense head of the police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, carried out strict enforcement of parking rules in downtown Kingston and Half-Way Tree.

Last year, the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament passed the Road Traffic Act with hefty fines for motorists who run afoul of the law. Driving while using a cellular phone or electronic device will also be outlawed. However, the regulations are yet to be completed and approved. The Government has signalled that by early 2020, the regulations would get the green light for implementation.

The Holness administration has also pledged to overhaul the traffic ticket system, which has seen offenders racking up thousands of tickets over the years without penalty. The police have launched a recent drive to haul perennial lawbreakers before the courts.