Editorial

Palisadoes debacle: Lawlessness at the core of our rampant criminality

Friday, January 05, 2018

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Television footage of the shameful debacle on the Palisadoes road Monday night that led to the huge traffic pile-up has further confirmed the point we made in this space yesterday that indiscipline and lawlessness are this nation's Achilles heel.

It was obvious from the footage that motor vehicles parked on the road helped to create the chaos. At the same time, people — most of them dressed in white, apparently in keeping with the theme of the Sandz party — could be seen having a grand time on the soft shoulders, adding to the traffic snarl that inconvenienced many travellers and caused flight delays at the Norman Manley International Airport.

To top it all off, we have received reports of some of the revellers posting mocking footage on social media of people abandoning their vehicles and walking to the airport with their luggage in hand. In other words, the fact that their inconsiderate actions inconvenienced others was a grand joke to them.

We are quite sure they would not have been laughing had the shoe been on the other foot. But that reckless behaviour, as we have pointed out in this space before, is what passes for the norm among too many people in this country.

Just take a look at what obtains on our roads daily, especially among taxi and minibus drivers. They break every rule of the road simply because they are, in most instances, allowed to get away with it.

As if that were not bad enough, it is not uncommon to see people tossing trash from their motor vehicles onto the streets, despite the fact that we have an Anti-litter Law. The same applies to men, and indeed women, who urinate in corners in public spaces.

Pedal cyclists believe that riding on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic is “cool”, while many people still drive motorcycles without wearing helmets which, as far as we can remember, is required by law.

We reiterate — and will continue to do so until the authorities wake up and act — that blatant disregard for the law spawns socially deviant behaviour. We see it every day in issues such as squatting and theft of utilities, two problems with which this country has been grappling for decades.

In the case of squatting, it doesn't help that many of the people guilty of this illegal act are encouraged by their political representatives under the vote-catching guise of providing a social good.

If the authorities don't tackle these kinds of issues, what hope is there for this country to get the upper hand on the rampant criminality that plagues us?

The irony is that the people who flout the laws here dare not do so when they visit or go to live in other countries where order prevails. The problem here, therefore, is not a matter of compliance, it is a matter of enforcement or the lack thereof.

We will always have the lawbreakers and the lawless ones among us. If the State cannot deal with them, of what use are the agencies on which so much of taxpayers money is spent to keep law and order?

There is no better time than the beginning of a new year to resolve as a nation to work together to defeat these age-old problems that make us look more like a village than a nation.

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