Regional

Little London High principal says implementation of bike taxi ban successful

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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LITTLE LONDON, Westmoreland

Principal of Little London High School Garfield James has hailed the implementation of the ban on students commuting to and from school on illegal bike taxis, which commenced on Monday as a major success.

“Monday was really good. The bikers, a large number of them came out at their regular spot, but unfortunately for them, there were no students for them to transport from the [Little London] square to the school,” James told the Jamaica Observer West earlier this week.

“So, we only had one incident of a father who transported his son to the school on a bike. He was approached and reprimanded…he apologised, indicating that he was not aware of the ban.”

Despite the bikers falling in line with the ban, James believes that they are hoping that the ban will become a “one-day wonder”.

“They continue to converge and sit in line because they are hoping that it won't last or we won't be able to sustain it. As a result of that, they are there sort of monitoring to see if we are going to be able to maintain it,” said James, who made it clear “we won't relent in our efforts to enforce the ban because the safety and security of children are paramount”.

The decision to impose the ban was taken two weeks ago by the board of directors of the school and was supported by parents, after a series of accidents involving a number of the illegal bike taxis that transport students to schools in the area.

President of the Parent Teachers' Association (PTA) Nichole Ferguson told the Observer West that all parents are in support of the ban.

“We had PTA meetings recently and this matter was discussed and we have 100 per cent support behind our principal. We have seen where our children have been hurt. Some of them physically injured. Nothing in terms of recompense has been given and parents have been begging, pleading with their children not to ride on these bikes because they know the consequence should something happen,” Ferguson explained.

The decision taken by the school has also received support from children's advocacy group, Hear The Children's Cry (HTCC).

“As passionate advocates for children, we wish to congratulate the principal, staff and board of governors of Little London High School for this much-needed ruling. We also commend them for their proactive move in putting in place a safe, free shuttle system for students between the town square and the school, using licensed private motor vehicles and the school's bus,” said Betty Ann Blaine, HTCC founder in a media release.

“While this move has been precipitated by a frightening new aspect to the challenge of transportation for school children, this is, in fact, a long-standing child safety challenge, involving both parental and Governmental neglect.”

Added Blaine: “In fact, Hear The Children's Cry would recommend that the innovative, problem-solving approach of the school be an example to the Government. If Little London High School can come up with this innovative solution to keeping students safe, why can't the Government implement a system to regulate this branch of the transportation sector — find safe and reliable private taxis or buses, certify them and brand them as safe for school children, while monitoring their operation effectively?”


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