Last update: 09-Dec-2013 6:43 pm
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Trafficking in frustration
“I fine dat eh makin’ no sense, like it causing more traffic dan anyting else. Like dis guvament really eh know whey dey doin’.” That’s just one of the reactions culled from a midday radio newscast on measures meant to ameliorate the peristaltic movement of traffic in the constipated central borough of Chaguanas. Works Minister Jack Warner probably had to find a pair of tweezers to pull out his few remaining wisps of hair in frustration at the failure of yet another traffic plan in that core of chaos. Simultaneously, there was celebration of the apparent easing of vehicular pressure in Port-of-Spain where another traffic plan was trotted out. The capital city mayor, Louis Lee Sing, in selected sound bites, gushed his optimism about the changes in a rare display of bipartisanship with the overworked Works Minister.
Facebookers, though, were quick to pee on that parade with the posting of cellphone photos of the still existing, stubborn snarl of traffic that confronts anyone who dares to leave their home before 8.30 am to force their way into the capital city. It is probably why people in this country have taken to casually sashaying into the office workplace between 9.30 and 10 am: “Is eeeder you want me here late but fresh or early but roast!” Sitting down in traffic on Wrightson Road has the same effect as waiting for the buffering video with the caption, “Rihanna’s shocking video,” when you are actually supposed to be doing work; it obliterates productivity. The workforce arrives late and leaves early and I daresay in some circumstances the employer is getting a ten to three shift out of the staff. Sounds unfair? How many folks, after having collected their children and deposited them at home or at some overpriced extracurricular activity/temporary orphanage actually return to the office? (If they do it is probably to take a drink of water from the cooler and collect the briefcase left behind to give the impression that, “Hey, I’m still here! I’ve just stepped away from my desk.”)
Experimenting with traffic is a necessary evil but common sense is often an early casualty of decidedly frantic deployment of anti-congestion strategies. The origin of most of our traffic problems can be found in a very familiar place: the echo where law and order in society should be. Planning permission is given (or perhaps not, it depends on who you know) for buildings practically on the pavement, yet there seems to be no expectation on the part of the prospective business owner to provide evidence of where parking is proposed or where service or delivery vehicles can be stationed while attending to a business place. Now delivery and service vehicles are given concessions in commercial districts, but with the paucity of proper zoning in this country, a well outlaid recipe for chaos has been followed to the letter and now we all have to “eat it.” The El Socorro Main Road comes to mind. This main artery travelling along several residential streets has been transformed into an industrial estate. There are massive buildings on either side and the owners needn’t concern themselves with the availability of parking because their customers are complicit in converting the main road during certain times of the day into a parking lot.
I can feel the rage well up in my neck when the person directly in front of my vehicle simply stops, pulls up the handbrake and strolls across the street to buy an air filter or doubles. That’s OK though, because if you leave the driver’s window down that is the international symbol for “I comin’ back jess now so keep yuh a-- kwart!” Then there is the night burger bottleneck, two purveyors of late night sandwiches positioned directly opposite each other. In the whole wide world, two competing interests came together to sell exactly the same product at the same spot. What do you get…apathetic Trinis parking on both sides of the road and, in zombie-like fashion, honing in on the aroma of the night burger. This is how the human mind works: if there is just one car parked in front of the burger stand that must mean this is the approved burger parking zone and other motorists are advised to proceed accordingly or shove it, whichever is the easier option. On the El Socorro Main Road it gets even worse. If you travel this road frequently then you are probably used to seeing an unlit shipping container at night parked in front of a store offloading the latest shipment of useless crap meant to bring a smile to hopeless hoarders everywhere.
Yes, that’s right, the main road becomes a loading zone at night, forklift and all. In all my years of visiting that clogged artery in the East, I have never ever seen a single police officer and the station is nearby. As always we are struggling to fix a problem that should never have been created in the first place. This would not be so if we were developed under a culture which expects adherence to the rule of law. In the Diego Martin area motorists are greeted with another pathetic attempt at diluting the traffic that occurs there every evening. In lieu of the highway extension (God alone knows how many properties have to be acquired before that becomes a reality), traffic wardens, at first mistaken for licensing officers with taxi drivers’ hats, were sent out to do their part to ensure that the traffic flow was as confused as it could possibly be. I can see that they mean well, God bless them, but I would rather take instructions from the orange cones that they’ve put down. There is a row of cones leading into the Starlite Shopping Plaza, for folks who do not know where the entrance is. Starlite is not the only offender; there is the gas station, the hardware store and the taxis hiding behind Suares, it is the traffic forcing its way onto Four Roads from Morne Coco Road; it is textbook poor planning.
Standing in the middle of the road, there is this bewildered traffic warden guiding two lanes into one, knowing that the cars don’t really fit, but trusting that if there is going to be a crash it will happen behind him. The cars feeding from Morne Coco Road now have the space of a grocery lane to pass between the cones and the two-foot-tall sidewalk. It is so embar- rassing. I feel personally embarrassed, as if I had a hand in this insanity. All of these problems are attributable to a lack of planning and failure to enforce the law. All that we seem able to do is periodically “try ah ting.” That is why Maraval Road has been one way, two way, one way during certain times of the day, then one way at all times… I am waiting for the day that I go there and stumble on to a two-sided one-way sign.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.