A sorry State
Each time I leave my country and return it is glaring to me how far we have fallen behind our Caribbean counterparts in many aspects.
In early December I spent four days in Trinidad, and more recently about eight in Grand Cayman. During those times I travelled extensively and am yet to see a single pothole on the roads of both islands . While ours are riddled with varying size craters, and where there is none the surface is uneven and undulating, primarily because many times we observe no standards when we do eventually fix a road. Developers are allowed to dig up roads to lay pipes and leave them unpaved for weeks, much like the crew that ‘squares’ up potholes and departs.
Driving in from the airport one realises how dark and poorly lit our roads are. On many roads, even newly constructed ones, poles are in place but no lights, which forces many motorists to drive with high beams at night and thus increase the risk of collisions. On both the aforementioned islands, even the rural roads are clearly marked along the sides and down the centre.
Not so in Jamaica, where many times one must position his/her vehicle based on memory because markings have faded. For example, Eastwood Park Road has three lanes; however, in areas where asphalt was laid, the lines were never repainted. It would be near impossible for a visitor to navigate the streets of Kingston safely.
Yet each year we lament the carnage on our roads and blame it on motorists’ carelessness. Which is correct in many instances, but has the State taken all the necessary measures to minimise the hazards on the country’s roads.
The excessive and lewd music that assault the ears and human psyche of our citizens on public transport and distract the drivers from being aware of their surroundings impact our safety. But the campaign against this practice is not sustained.
One wonders about the previously much publicised installation of cameras at intersections across the city. Are they operational? What information is being gathered and for what purpose? Is the accompanying legislation in place to make them of value, in terms of issuing traffic tickets?
Ingrained indiscipline has rendered our traffic signals of no use since the common practice is for four or five cars to attempt to go through after the signal has changed only to block the intersection and create gridlock, resulting in a free for all. Thereafter, the right of way becomes a prize for aggression and selfishness and chaos prevails as those who play by the book are left behind.