“Call me RamKING Sharma,” Omardath Maraj, a joint winner of this year’s Chutney Soca Monarch, jokingly said as our interview was about to begin.
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Crackdown soon on corruption at Licensing Office
A crackdown on corruption at the Licensing Office is coming soon, Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner warned yesterday. Acknowledging that “the Licensing Office is stewing with corruption,” Warner said the only way to arrest it was to change the entire structure of the department from top to bottom. “A sting operation will catch one or two offenders but it won’t arrest corruption,” Warner said. He made the disclosure while delivering the feature address at the commissioning of the Intelligent Transport System (ITS), a traffic surveilence and control system, at the ministry’s Park and Richmond Streets, Port-of-Spain, headquarters.
Warner said Government was looking at implementing the Motor Vehicle Access Authority Act as part of its corruption crackdown plan at the Licensing Office. “This will automatically differentiate the good from the bad,” he noted. The ITS is part of the ministry’s new national traffic management plan, designed primarily to reduce traffic congestion. A National Traffic Management Centre now monitors 11 major intersections, from Ana Street, Woodbrook, to the Grand Bazaar mall at the intersection of the Uriah Butler and Churchill-Roosevelt Highways. The centre has been set up on the second floor of the ministry’s head office.
It is part of a $42 million contract awarded by the National Infrastructural Development Company Limited (Nidco) to a Canadian firm, the IBI Group, to implement a pilot traffic management project in T&T.
Another $19 million contract, adding new technological features, is expected to be awarded to the IBI by year’s end, Nidco’s president, Dr Carson Charles, told the T&T Guardian at the function yesterday. IBI is a leading world transport professional service firm, according to Charles. From yesterday, the ITS system began tracking vehicles from Port-of-Spain to Woodbrook and, according to Charles, operators of the system would be able to know, by the number plate, if any one of them has been stolen. Pole-mounted traffic sensors would be able to identify a non-registered vehicle and the information would be passed on to the police, Warner said. Under the system, ten 60-foot pole-mounted CCTV cameras and 16 vehicle detection systems also will be set up along various points.
Reckless drivers who break lights and cross the speed limit will be hauled to court as the ministry plans to enforce the relevant legislation, Warner disclosed. “One of the benefits of the ITS is the prevention of the breaking of red lights,” he said. He said the enforcement of average speed legislation in England, Barcelona, and other countries around the world has resulted in a reduction in accidents from 42 per cent to16 per cent. “You will no longer have policemen running out of the bush to charge reckless drivers,” Warner said. Another aspect of the high-level technology being used by the IBI Group is the installation of two large message signs along the corridor.
The centrally-controlled displays will give motorists information about accidents and traffic and weather conditions and suggestions on alternative routes. Tissa de Silva, project director of the IBI Group’s ITS, said the firm had brought experience gained from its operations in North America, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world to T&T. Warner said the ITS traffic management plan would be implemented along the Princes Town/San Fernando route and even in Siparia, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Charles said if the plan was taken throughout T&T, it would revolutionise road traffic management in the country.
The Ministry of Works and Transport yesterday launched its 5K walkathon which will be held on June 11 at the Queen’s Park Savannah. The ministry is partnering with the Environmental Management Authority to stage the event, which also will commemorate World Environment Day on June 5.