Gridlock: A Timeline of the Sandz Party-Palisadoes Traffic Debacle

Traffic on the Palisadoes Strip, the only thoroughfare leading to and from Jamaica’s Norman Manley International Airport

Background to the issue

Several persons – travelers and airline flight crew alike – missed their flights out of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston on Monday, January 1, 2018 because of lengthy traffic delays along the Palisadoes strip, which leads to the airport.  The delay was caused by daylight New Year’s party, Sandz, and other New Year’s activities (watching the fireworks) which brought a high volume of people and motor vehicles to the strip.

This unfortunate occurrence sparked a debate about why a permit was granted for a major party to be held on such an important thoroughfare. The Palisadoes Strip is the only road that leads to and from the NMIA. In the days that ensued, varying stories unfolded. There were debates about whether the Palisadoes was an entertainment zone (see the definition for entertainment zones here), the absence of police accountability, and a general culture of indiscipline in Jamaica. Below, we have outlined, in chronological order, the main stories around the issue, as they appeared in The Gleaner.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Dozens of travelers and airport/airline workers, flight crew miss flights because of traffic pile-up on the Palisadoes strip, due to the increased numbers from Sandz patrons, and other New Year’s activities.

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018

National Security Minister Robert Montague is demanding that the Police Commissioner explain the breakdown that resulted in a major traffic congestion on the sole route to the NMIA.

Wednesday, Jan 3, 2018

Police Commissioner George Quallo has submitted a preliminary report to National Security Minister, Robert Montague, on the major traffic pile-up on the Palisadoes Road in Kingston.

As much as US$500 was being charged on Monday by motorcyclists who took advantage of the desperation of holiday visitors headed to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston but who were stuck in traffic and feared that they would miss their flights.

The Chief executive officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Peter Knight, has disclosed that the area on the Palisadoes Road in Kingston, where the Sandz party was held, was not approved as an entertainment zone.

Thursday, Jan 4, 2018

New information indicates that a directive was given to cops barring the issuance 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).

Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams says he’ll be seeking to engage the National Works Agency (NWA) to help with real-time traffic information surrounding events, following Monday night’s traffic nightmare along the Palisadoes road in Kingston.

Monday, Jan 8, 2018

Meeting between Police Commissioner George Quallo and National Security Minister Robert Montague takes place.

Former State minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Damion Crawford, says 7th Harbour Entertainment Complex, Gun Boat Beach, Palisadoes, was granted an environment approval from the chief executive officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Peter Knight. This is contrary to Knight and current entertainment ministry Olivia Grange’s claims that this is is not so.

Tuesday, Jan 9, 2018

News began making the rounds that Quallo was to hand in his resignation letter, following his meeting with National Security Minister Robert Montague to discuss the rampant murder rate and the Palisadoes-Sandz issue.

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018

Police Commissioner George Quallo has pointed the finger at Superintendent Robert Walker, commanding officer for the Kingston East Police Division, claiming that his “lack of diligence and proper management” was one of the reasons for the traffic gridlock.

Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018

Superintendent Robert Walker, blamed for the gridlock, was removed as the head of the East Kingston Police Division.

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018

The national security minister has softened his tone towards the Commissioner of Police, George Quallo, over the traffic nightmare on the Palisadoes Road on new Year’s Day.