Editorial | Show us your traffic plan
Public assurance is needed that the police have a traffic plan to curb the havoc that is currently being created on the streets of the nation's capital as we head into the usually hectic Christmas season.
As we see it, there is a desperate need to strengthen the management and monitoring of our roadways, in light of the major infrastructure work being undertaken in the city from Barbican to Beverly Hills. Even as the Government moves to effect repairs to the city's dilapidated road system, the issue facing the public is chaos.
The deployment of police personnel in the vicinity of traffic lights and on major thoroughfare merits urgent consideration to ensure that gridlock is mitigated in the days ahead.
A huge part of the problem has been identified by head of the Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen: The supply of public-passenger vehicles far outstrips potential passenger load. This partly explains why taxis and minibus drivers tend to ignore the basic rules of the road as they race against each other to snare the next passenger.
To combat this lawlessness, which includes overtaking on the wrong side of the road, erratic lane changes and ignoring the right of way, the police need to be very visible.
The news that fewer deaths have occurred on the roads so far this year should only receive muted celebration, for acts of indiscipline and arrant display of disdain for pedestrians and fellow motorists is on show every day. While law-abiding citizens patiently wait in long lines, the lawless ones take to the shoulder of the road or form an illegal lane with flashing hazard lights as if they are justified in their actions.
How to curb this peril must be exercising the minds of public authorities. The awful state of roads is sometimes the villain, and when this is coupled with a reckless mindset, the stage is set for mayhem.
But there must be remedies. We submit that there ought to be strategies to reduce traffic density in the main commercial corridors. This should open the way for a vibrant public-transport system to fill the breach.
But the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), despite its spanking new buses, is bleeding red because of lack of patronage. It is estimated that the JUTC loses $8 million every day. That's a staggering deficit for any company to absorb. So while public transport is heavily subsidised by Government, the buses are not being patronised by the majority.
The Road Traffic Act of 1938, which needs a desperate overhaul, has been languishing in Parliament for a while. Many, like Senior Superintendent Allen and his team from the Police Traffic Division, are pinning their hopes on the new law that will mete out tougher punishment to offenders.
Persons who make their living on the roads have, up to now, treated the road traffic law with scant regard. A second amnesty for traffic offenders who have amassed dozens of tickets is a good indication of how deeply entrenched the culture of indifference is.
Having a revised Road Traffic Act will not achieve the desired effect of deterring people if there is no rigid enforcement and swift justice.
The Traffic Division really needs to be brought into the 21st Century and be exposed to new technologies such as satellite-based vehicle tracking as well as electronic ticketing.