Letters to the Editor

Use the big stick approach!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Jamaica is known all over the world for our music, cuisine, athletic prowess, natural beauty, lots of sunshine, and a stable democratic system of government. What is perhaps not so well known to outsiders is that many Jamaicans are naturally inclined to be undisciplined, especially in their homeland.

I say in their homeland as it is widely observed that we can be exemplary citizens or visitors on foreign shores. This difference in behaviour is often attributed to strict enforcement of laws in, say, the United States of America, compared to lax enforcement in Jamaica.

Nowhere is our indiscipline more evident than on our roads. Most drivers, especially those of public passenger vehicles, will breach every rule of the road as long as no police officer is in sight.

This tendency is well known, yet the authorities appear impotent to arrest the slide into anarchy.

We were deceived into believing the Government finally had enough when our Parliament passed a new Road Traffic Act with new offences and punitive fines for breaches. However, nine months after passage of the Act, and over 300 road deaths later, it is yet to come into force.

In the meantime, lawbreakers continue to rule the roost as otherwise law-abiding citizens either join the indiscipline or surrender to the lawlessness.

To be fair to the authorities a number of traffic cameras (some 500) have been installed at intersections; however, that is of little comfort, as the cameras have not been commissioned into service.

I am a strong believer that most people will do what they can get away with, and in Jamaica we can get away with a lot.

For example, some motorists have been allowed to accumulate hundreds of traffic tickets secured in the knowledge they are more likely to be eaten by a dinosaur than to be brought to book for a breach of the law.

How can that be a visitor to the island may ask. It is very simple, management of traffic tickets is shared between the police, the tax authorities and the courts, and they don't (or hardly) speak to each other.

Another Jamaican trait is our tendency to treat with things the way we wish they were, rather than how they are. Some think it is an admirable optimistic trait. I beg to differ.

I think it is an exercise in self-delusion and futility.

I say acknowledge and address the status quo while educating for a better future.

So, since we only follow rules when someone is standing over us with a big stick, use the big stick approach.

Bring the new Road Traffic Act into force like yesterday. Saturate the roads with police personnel and/or cameras, exercise zero-tolerance to breaches, while simultaneously educating the public to the benefits of self-discipline.

In other words, use the method to which we are most responsive! Success is guaranteed!

Wayne Plummer

wayne.r.plummer@gmail.com


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