Bike taxis fear hits Westmoreland school ...Teacher wants bus for her students
A Little London resident riding on a bike taxi is not an unusual sight given that the small Western Westmoreland community is regarded as the bike capital of Jamaica.
But for the students of the Broughton Primary, the ride can be dangerous as the motorcycle carries up to six children leading to several accidents.
Principal Marva Davis-Clarke told THE STAR that the accidents have become so frequent that the school decided to enter the Toyota Jamaica Bus Di School competition for yet another year.
"The need for the bus is really great as the bike taxi is not a choice, but is the only option for these children. We've had so many accidents, it's not even funny. It's so bad that we have to buy gloves and a first-aid kit to take care of them. A child even suffered brain damage when she fell from the bike on her way to school," Davis-Clarke said.
She said too that there has been low attendance as children fear the bikes, and, for this reason, parents do not see Broughton Primary as the first choice for their children.
"Children don't want to come to the school because of fear as they know how often the accidents occur. We need the bus to eliminate this fear to have our children settled and performing at their utmost, as that is our ultimate goal," Davis-Clarke said.
A policeman stationed at the Little London Police Station told THE STAR yesterday that residents use bike taxis frequently because it's more feasible for the unpaved back roads in areas such as Broughton, Retrieve, and Old Hope.
"We try to give the bike taxi men a 'bly' because they are the only ones willing to take the children home, deep on the back roads. Sometimes, they carry three, four children, and we have to rush them up and warn them, but we have to be fair cause we know how the thing go," the cop said.
"They are like an unruly child that you beat and beat and then when you're finished they do the same thing again. If we lock them up they are going to come out and do the same thing, and then the children will have nobody to take them so everybody end up lose," he said.
Meanwhile, the principal told THE STAR that the school needs a bus to grow beyond academics, and the lack of transportation prevents the school from entering several competitions.
"This year, we are the national cricket champions and it cost us so much money for transportation to go across the island. We are very good in baseball and football, but the competitions were running simultaneously and with the lack of transportation, we had to choose cricket, which we won. We're serious about winning as it drives the success of the school, so we need the bus to participate more. This little bush school has talent," she said.
Last year, the school boasted the parish's top Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) male performer. This year it has both the male and female Spelling Bee parish champions, national cricket champion, and placed second in a local quiz competition held in Negril in the parish.