Ramshackle road management system

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The Road Safety Unit has reported that we've exceeded 300 fatalities with more than three months remaining in the year. This is a very sad statistic.

At the same time, it was reported that the police had arrested two motorists who between them had over 1,100 tickets and for whom several arrest warrants had been issued. It gives me no joy to return to this matter, but the police have not covered themselves with glory in this road safety business.

One of the two, a taxi driver, was arrested by “buck-ups”. He had accumulated over 100 tickets since 2018, and 10 warrants for his arrest had been issued. How could a man like this be on the road carrying passengers? Yet, when the police stopped him it was not to take him into custody forthwith; it was to impound his vehicle for yet another offence. This time operating contrary to his road licence. He was let go. How could something like this happen? He was only caught because of still another offence — presenting a forged document to retrieve his car. Only then were checks made, which revealed his sordid record. How can we repose confidence in the ability of the police to control the criminal behaviour of some of our taxi drivers?

The other incident was even more egregious. A bus driver was stopped and checks revealed that he had over 1,000 unpaid traffic tickets and three arrest warrants. Yet, once again, the guy was not in hiding. He was out there carrying passengers. We must, yet again, ask the obvious question…how could this have happened? Can't we find these guys? Must we wait until we buck them up?

This is part of the ramshackle that passes for road traffic control. It manifests in other ways as well. If you have ever taken stock of the speed limits posted on our various roads you would know immediately what I'm talking about. It is clear to me that it is not a single authority that sets these limits. Probably local authorities simply do as they please. For example, the road between Swansea and Toll Gate in Clarendon permits 80 kph most of the way. That road runs almost entirely through built-up areas. Driveways open directly on to the main road and there is no fence or other separator between the residences, shops, and the roadway; opposing traffic is separated only be a white line, and there is one lane in each direction. Contrast this with the Edward Seaga Highway, a purpose-built thoroughfare. The traffic directions are separated by a concrete barrier, there are two dedicated lanes in each direction, it passes through undeveloped land with practically nothing on either side for its entire length, yet even so fencing separates it from the surrounding space, and no road crosses the carriageway. Nowhere on this road can you legally exceed 80 kph. For long stretches 60 kph is the allowable top speed. The 8km between Golden Grove and Mammee Bay, in both directions, is 60 kph, and it's not the only such zone. I find it incredible that any authority could have even contemplated such silliness, much more implement and maintain it. You can also be sure police are lurking around corners to catch speedsters.

I cannot bring myself to pay such a high toll only to run the risk of high fines for exceeding speed limits utterly lacking in merit, so I no longer drive on it.

Michael Nicholson

mnicholson@utech.edu.jm


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