A WEEK that began with panic buying caused by rumours of a gas shortage ended with more misery for motorists when traffic gridlock broke out after an early morning accident on the Beetham Highway yesterday. Pandemonium, it seems, is the order of the day. But the frustrating delays and disorder — caused by a combination of official ineptitude and indiscipline – are avoidable.
We express condolences to those affected by yesterday’s accident which left at least one person dead and three injured. Initial reports suggested a Nissan X-Trail and a dump truck were involved in a collision after one vehicle attempted to overtake another. The incident is subject to official inquiry and we call on investigators to complete their work soonest in order to reassure the general public over the cause.
Not reassuring, however, was the inevitable build-up of traffic as early morning commuters sought to enter the capital. Many reported dissatisfaction over the length of time it took to process the scene, as well as how the scene was managed.
In frustration, some along the east-west corridor sought refuge through diversion to the Priority Bus Route and the Eastern Main Road. But the result was simply the transfer of the clogging from one artery to another.
Our authorities have enough experience to know how best to handle accident scenes but there is clearly room for improvement. While we cannot predict when an accident will occur we can still be prepared for one, even in rush-hour traffic. We draw attention to the lack of a police presence during yesterday’s gridlock. Indeed, our disaster management plans must be able to cater for any eventuality no matter the hour.
The problem of the overcentralised nature of activities in the capital comes into better focus when the main access point to the city is so encumbered. It’s not good when something as simple – though undoubtedly tragic – as a car accident can have such distressing effects on motorists and on productivity as a whole.
The solution could well be in more upgrades to our infrastructure. In this regard it’s good to see many ongoing projects taking shape or being completed. But new roads and facilities are meaningless unless they are part of a well-designed system which properly caters to needs. That means data must also be efficiently paired with expenditure.
But as was the case with the rush to judgment earlier this week in relation to gas shortages, the behaviour of motorists is also a big factor. Indiscipline on the road remains a substantial problem, from traffic violations to impetuous driving practices.
As we head into the festive Christmas season, which many will use this weekend to prepare for, we call on all to exercise caution and restraint. It’s not good enough to ascribe bad habits, fatalistically, to Trini culture. We must change that culture in order to ease our everyday pressures.