Motorised 'handcarts' hit the streets -Police concerned about safety, as hustlers innovate
The police and the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport are becoming very concerned over the increasing practice of persons attaching motors to handcarts to have them move faster.
In recent weeks, several of these motorised handcarts have been seen speeding across the streets of the Corporate Area, with music pumping, as the operators sell CDs and other items.
One of these motorised handcarts was also seen being used by workmen as a means of transportation for themselves and their tools.
"It is illegal, it is not recognised under the law and we must encourage persons to desist from placing any of these things on the public roads, because it poses more danger than anything else," head of the island's traffic division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, told The Sunday Gleaner.
"The only thing we can do is applaud their creativity, but in terms of the Road Traffic Act and what it stipulates to be used on our roadways, that is not an instrument or equipment that is recognised or allowed," added Allen, as he noted that motors have also been attached to some bicycles.
"These bicycle men as well who are trying to be creative, that's a no-no, we not tolerating it at all," said Allen.
These motorised handcarts are fitted with a fuel tank and a motor but use the normal breaking system, where the driver applies pressure to one of the rear wheels or the road surface in order to stop.
"It is cause for concern; we don't want these risks out there at all. I am afraid of these risks, because 177 people dead already (on the roads) is far too many persons," said head of the island's Road Safety Unit, Kenute Hare.
"The first thing I would want to be concerned about is the breaking system for this vehicle and how fast these vehicles travel. If a handcart is going at speed and hits a pedestrian, that can be very serious, as based on international studies anything above 30 kph can kill a pedestrian or cause serious injuries.
"So from that perspective, we would not want these persons to be motorising handcarts and bicycles; that must not happen," added Hare.
He said he will be seeking to meet with the Island Traffic Authority and the police about the matter, as the Road Safety Unit would like to eliminate this risky practice before it spreads.
However, Allen revealed the cops have already spoken to at least one person seen with one of these modified handcarts, telling him that these devices are not permitted on the nation's streets, "although lack of knowledge is really not an excuse".
"A handcart is supposed to move by being pushed or pulled, but not how it is being done there. The Road Traffic Act doesn't give any leeway for that," said Allen.
"An engine-propelled vehicle travelling at speed has to be licensed and insured due to the danger it poses, because insurance comes with preparing for an accident or any other incident.
"So this is not something that can be on the road as it relates to the whole aspect of proper coverage for either its operator or anybody who it might hurt. If something like that was to injure anyone, then it would be a whole different ball game as it relates to trying to get compensation."
Allen pointed out that unlike what is expected with vehicles on the road where they are taken to examination depots to verify correctness, fitness and road-worthiness, the same would not have been done for a handcart.
But while noting the danger posed by these motorised handcarts, the senior policeman was not sure what charge could be levelled against the persons who operate them.
"As it relates to the whole aspect of a charge, if it is a matter that persists with the individual a file would have to be prepared and submitted to the DPP (director of public prosecutions) for a particular ruling. That would be the course of action that we would take," said Allen.