Gov't to buy lands for highway expansion
The Portia Simpson Miller-chaired Cabinet has given approval for the acquisition of seven parcels of land with an estimated area of 15.5 acres and 20 structures in the parishes of St Andrew and St Catherine utilising the provisions of the Land Acquisition for the rehabilitation of the Mandela Highway.
The lands will be acquired between the exit ramp of the P.J. Patterson Highway and the Six Miles Bridge.
Cabinet said the lands are likely to be needed for the implementation of the Mandela Highway Improvement Project under the Major Infrastructure Develop-ment Programme.
"The highway is the major connecting roadway between western Jamaica and the Corporate Area and is the most heavily trafficked roadway in Jamaica. The highway can also be used as an evacuation route for the low lying areas of Portmore, Kingston and St Andrew, should the need arise," the Cabinet said.
It said further that the proposed rehabilitation works include raising the highway and upgrading its size to six through lanes east of Highway 2000.
"It is anticipated that the proposed changes will reduce the incidence of flooding on the roadway and better accommodate existing and future traffic demands," a document tabled in Parliament on Tuesday read.
Hackney carriage cabs to carry more passengers
Meanwhile, a bill intended to increase the number of passengers a hackney carriages can transport from three to four has been stalled in the House of Representatives and may not be passed until next week.
The bill has been before the House since September 16, but on Tuesday, when the Government attempted to secure its passage, Mike Henry, the opposition spokesman on transport, said he wanted more time to consider it.
The law currently allows for hackney carriages to carry no more than three passengers.
A bill seeking to increase the number of passengers to be carried in the cars from three to four is currently before the House of Representatives.
Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies said taxi operators have been asking for the "common sense" amendment to the Road Traffic Act owing to the fact that while they are required to insure the vehicles to carry five people, including the driver, the law only allows for four people to be in the vehicle, including the driver.
"The retention of the limit on the number of passengers is untenable as the hackney carriage operators argue, with justification, that with their operating costs increasing they could not make a living carrying three passengers," Davies said.
He said, however, that the amendment does not mean a "free for all. It is four passengers plus one, not nine plus one or seven plus one."
"That maximum number will be rigidly enforced," Davies added.
Egerton Newman, Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services, has called on the Jamaican Parliament to instruct the police not seize the motorcars of taxi operators who are transporting four passengers.
"It is too important to be delayed until next week, but they are the lawmakers. All we are asking for is that they instruct the police not to disturb the operators until the bill is passed by parliament," Newman said.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, in seeking to get the opposition to agree to pass the bill on Tuesday, said that the police were taking away vehicles because of the current law.
Newman said that the police have been on "our backs" and "a major problem exists" now where the police are seizing hackney carriage and route taxis which have four passengers.