Junction taxi operators strike, demand upgraded park

JUNCTION, St Elizabeth — Scores of commuters were yesterday left stranded in this south-central town following a strike by taxi operators demanding that their taxi park be upgraded.

Southern Taxi Association President Charles Powell told the Jamaica Observer that about 250 members withdrew their service to send a message to the relevant authorities on the condition of the Junction taxi park.

“The… park is deplorable. There is no bathroom facility and we are getting tickets [from the police] if we don’t use the park. The police are pressuring the members to use the park and it is not in a suitable condition,” he said.

However, Councillor Cetany Holness (Jamaica Labour Party, Junction Division) said the enforcement is necessary to reduce congestion and ensure law and order in the town.

“The police are carrying out some level of enforcement which we anticipated for some while now, because the taxi operators and the vendors are making the town almost impassable,” said Holness.

“When you drive through the town you are seeing a lot of strangers, everybody comes and park their vehicle in the town and just open the back and sell their wares. We have a market right in the heart of the town that is woefully underused, and the taxi park is right in the heart of the town,” he added.

Holness refuted claims by Powell that there is no sanitary facility for the taxi operators at the park.

“I hear the president of the taxi association talking on radio that it takes them 45 minutes to leave the park and come into the town. It is not true. I also hear him saying there is no bathroom facility [and] that is not true. There is a bathroom facility provided for the taximen,” said Holness.

Powell is adamant that taxi operators face delays in utilising the park.

“Is a one way in and a one way out and sometimes when the goods truck comes to the supermarket at the corner, it takes 45 minutes to move or to get around to the park,” said Powell.

He said the park needs to be upgraded with suitable facilities for taxi operators and commuters.

In response, Holness said the municipality is exploring acquiring land in the town to be used for a new taxi park.

“I am saying to the taximen to just use the park, because it is close to the town, until the parish council can come up with something else. We are in some consultations with some [landowners], but until that materialises the taximen will have to use the park,” said Holness.

He commended the police for their enforcement in the town which has experienced brazen armed robberies in recent years.

“Congestion is a recipe for criminality whenever criminals come into the town to hold up our business operators. The number of people in the town, the police cannot get the opportunity to do their work, because the town is heavily congested,” he added.

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