Shoppers appeal for fix to Bog Walk parking woes
Terri-Ann Thompson was one of scores of shoppers who crammed the Bog Walk town centre on Saturday as commuters stocked up on food and other supplies before the second phase of the long Easter weekend lockdown that started at noon.
The extended curfew was imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease that has already killed 622 people here and infected more than 41,000.
But Thompson and others in the bustling business district could scarcely find parking.
“When I come out here this morning, I think it was grand market due to the amount of people out here. You can’t get inside, plus no parking space,” Thompson told The Gleaner.
Grand market is the Christmas Eve shopping extravaganza that draws thousands of shoppers annually.
Thompson lamented that more time had not been allotted for shoppers, which triggered a rush for goods and services. The lockdown break compounded the risk of contracting COVID-19, she believes.
“It rough, man. It tek mi about 30 minutes to get dem grocery items here fi di pickney dem. Dis used to tek about five minutes,” she said.
Her view was corroborated by Patrick Brown.
“Di place full, hardly any space to turn as the road pack wid vehicle and people,” Brown said.
Public passenger vehicles with routes to Troja, Linstead, Riversdale, Giblatore, Sligoville, and Spanish Town all jostle with private and commercial operators, as well as pedestrians, for space. Motorists also use the thoroughfare as an alternative route to the Linstead Bypass.
That makes for a cocktail of confusion, one of many semi-urban centres across Jamaica that is marred by traffic and parking woes. Bog Walk has a police station, market, factory, bank, health centre, and post office.
PLEADING FOR INTERVENTION
Several motorists who use the corridor are imploring the municipal authorities to intervene.
That’s also the opinion of Marvin Duggal.
“If there is an emergency and a vehicle have to speed along this road, instead of saving lives, there is the risk of taking life, as there is no space to drive as it (the town centre) is a park and everything in one,” Duggal told The Gleaner.
Peter Abraham, councillor of the Bog Walk division, acknowledged the need for a structured parking system.
“For years, I have been making representation to the relevant authorities for a proper parking facility. I have yet to get any positive headway, and the problem continues. It was suggested that a part of the railway property could be used, but that, too, has hit a snag,”Abraham said.
Describing the parking woes as chronic, he said that it was “a miracle” that pedestrians were able navigate the traffic. He warned that it is “a disaster waiting to happen”.
Abraham said that he would continue to lobby the St Catherine Municipal Corporation for a permanent fix.
Meanwhile, personnel at the nearby Bog Walk Police Station said there was need for proper arrangements to improve traffic control and parking in the town.