Mayor tells council: Deal with Port of Spain traffic now

Heavy traffic on Independence Square in Port of Spain. - SUREASH CHOLAI
Heavy traffic on Independence Square in Port of Spain. - SUREASH CHOLAI

Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez has called on the city council to make decisions to deal with traffic congestion in the capital in an expeditious manner.

At the council’s monthly statutory meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Martinez said he had received several complaints about the congestion. and contacted acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob to discuss traffic management.

Martinez said he suggested the city reintroduce wrecking, but Jacob said the only authority allowed to collect money for wrecking was the office of the Commissioner of Police. Martinez asked him to seek further guidance, as the corporation had been collecting money from wrecking for years.

“There is a theory that the Commissioner of Police is the only person allowed to receive money for wrecking. The acting Commissioner of Police pointed that out to me in our meeting, and I suggested that he check that. That brought me to the thinking that for all the many years that we have been wrecking, long before I became mayor, is it that we have been doing it illegally?”

Martinez explained although people make payments to the police service when their cars are wrecked, the money does not go to the CoP.

“A portion of the money, about $300, goes to the wrecking service. The remainder, $200, goes to the corporation, (from) which we pay the police officers for extra duties, and the remainder goes to the corporation, and part of that goes to the Mayor’s Fund.” Martinez said this fund is used to facilitate events in the city and some is donated to people in need.

“When we do events in the city that need decorations and so on, the money for that has to come from somewhere,” he said. “We do not use statutory allocations for that.”

Martinez added that along with the wrecking service there were other suggestions such as giving police traffic-ticket books to charge indiscriminate parkers, but he said the tickets were more expensive and could have the additional punishment of demerit points.

According to the Ministry of Works the offence of negligently or wilfully interrupting free passage on the roads or causing an unnecessary obstruction carries a $600 fine and a three-demerit-point punishment.

Martinez said wrecking would resume in the capital soon, and there may be areas or wrecking zones where cars will be removed to ensure the free flow of traffic.

“This is based on the fact that there is a lot of lawlessness in terms of where people park. There is congestion. When a car stops to let someone out, all the traffic behind him has to wait, and when there are larger vehicles like fire trucks, you are compromised when there is parking on both sides of the road.”

He noted that there are several car parks in the city, owned and run both privately and by the city, but they are not in use because there were no wreckers to keep indiscriminate parkers in check.

“What is happening is that no one is using the car parks available, because you can park anywhere. We have a car park owned by the city in South Quay, but currently it is closed and empty, because there is no business, because everyone could park on the street for free. I am sure that there is additional space in these privately-owned car parks.”

There are car parks in several areas of Port of Spain, including Henry Street, Frederick Street, St Vincent Street and Independence Square.


"Mayor tells council: Deal with Port of Spain traffic now"

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