Saturday, April 13, 2024

Fallout after party traffic blocks Kingston’s sole airport road

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Police commanders were instructed last year not to issue any more permits for 7th Harbour, the venue for the New Year’s Day party that is being blamed for the traffic gridlock that shut down the highway leading to the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), law-enforcement sources have revealed.

The directive was issued by the Police High Command, sources said, after last year’s staging of the popular party series Sandz also caused a huge traffic pile-up along the Palisadoes Road.

“The High Command last year issued a directive that no permit should be issued for that venue,” one source insisted.

Yesterday, a member of the Police High Command stopped short of confirming this assertion.

“I know we had very serious concerns about what happened out there [last year], but I can’t recall if there was a directive that no more permits should be issued for the venue,” the senior cop told The Gleaner.

The claim comes as Minister of National Security Robert Montague publicly rejected a report submitted to his office by Commissioner of Police George Quallo on the New Year’s Day traffic nightmare.

Scores of motorists, the flight crew for at least four international airlines, and other persons trying to catch flights out of the island were stuck in traffic for up to four hours as rowdy patrons attending the Sandz party series spilled out on to the roadway.

The incident, described by Quallo as embarrassing, prompted Montague to demand answers from the police chief.

Who gave permission [for the party]? Why? Where was the policing plan? Where were the police? What is the commissioner doing about the incident? are some of the questions Montague asked.

The report was delivered almost two hours after the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday but still left the security minister disappointed.

National Security Minister Robert Montague agreed to give Police Commissioner George Quallo until tomorrow to present a more comprehensive report but delivered an ominous warning.

“In reminding the police commis-sioner that under Section 3 of the Constabulary Force Act, he has sole operational command and superintendence of the force, Minister Montague says someone must be held accountable,” read a statement from the Ministry of National Security.

Montague said that the report he received from Quallo was inadequate as it did not address the questions he raised. According to him, the report did not outline the conditions of approval for the party and did not “speak clearly” to a policing plan that was in place for the event.

He insisted that there needs to be a fulsome account to the public and said that the police personnel who were on duty at the time cannot be held solely responsible for the inadequate planning for the event.

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