Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Garth A. Rattray | The wrong legacy (Part 2)

Published:Monday | September 24, 2018 | 12:11 AM
Roadwork under way at Port Simpson Square, Three Miles, St Andrew.

Eventually, when the newly constructed road-ways are flooded with the newly imported cars and are choked at various bottlenecks, what will we think of the much-vaunted 'legacy' then? As we throttle, burning off precious fuel and poisoning ourselves with exhaust, will we mostly remember the chaos, dust, respiratory illnesses, the demise of businesses and jobs from inaccessibility and loss of telecommunications? Will we wonder about the 'progress' that was limited by an inability to solve the traffic problems? Will the legacy backfire?

Adding to the milieu of our traffic nightmare is the big business that importing vehicles provide. Selling pre-owned and brand spanking new vehicles is a very profitable source of income. From prestigious, giant motor vehicle importers to the one-man, online entrepreneur, selling cars is very profitable. Everybody wants the independence and convenience of a personal vehicle. No one likes waiting 'forever' on large buses that are caught up in traffic somewhere else and are possibly already full by the time they arrive. We all know of the occasional bus bandits that brandish weapons and relieve hapless passengers of their property.

Although convenient, we would rather avoid the 'route taxis' that cram and scram with people while breaking every conceivable traffic law in a bid to get rid of existing passengers and grab new ones. And, of course, there have been recent incidents of thieves, posing as route taxis, that abduct and rob commuters. Our public transport system has a plethora of challenges.

 

Supply and demand

 

The demand for vehicles drives the supply market, and the supply market is so enticing that it drives the demand for vehicles. Importing, maintaining and fuelling vehicles soak up massive amounts of precious foreign exchange, and the foreign exchange that they earn/produce is intangible. This upward spiralling, self-driven economic boom will never abate until commuters are offered practical and safe options. This is where our future salvation lies. The powers that be must dedicate more time, money and effort to public transport solutions instead of mainly engaging in mitigating projects that will be negated sooner than we dare to imagine.

We all know that; with any progress comes discomfort; however, in spite of the many experts involved and their apparent efforts at minimising dislocations and losses, the inconveniences, suffering and financial losses are great and pile up every day. I have patients who are constantly suffering from upper and lower respiratory diseases because of the dust. Some are literally freaking out because of heavy traffic going right by their homes.

I was sent into an intersection by an incompetent, untrained flag-person who was not too bright, and I was almost t-boned by the oncoming traffic that was not adequately signalled to stop. Detour signs are woefully lacking. They seem to be hurriedly flung on-site. Negotiating many roads depends on following the cars ahead and hoping that they know where they are going. There needs, to be a lot more thought and planning put into detour signs and many more informed and trained personnel manning them who can tell us where to go to get where we need to, because businesses are suffering massive revenue losses.

The contractors are disrupting thousands of telecommu-nications services. Many businesses will die because of lack of landlines and Internet service. FLOW/Cable & Wireless claims that, despite cautionary warnings and instructions, the excavation is destroying the lifelines of businesses. The telecoms giant must do more to safeguard its valued customers and the Government must intervene urgently to preserve lines and cables, and stop this callous, unrestrained, heavy-handed and extremely disruptive behaviour by the contractors.

The 'legacy' may well become one of dislocation, pain, suffering and financial ruin to gain limited reprieve from traffic congestion.

Next week: Conclusion

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.