Key traffic lights on the blink again

-$9m in damage since 2007

Vandalism, damage from accidents and maintenance were the explanations offered for traffic lights that were not functioning around the city by the Electrical Engineer within the Traffic Department of the Ministry of Works.

An inspection of some of the India-bought lights on Tuesday revealed that the one at Robb and Camp streets was flashing red while the light on North Road and Camp Street was not working at all. Further, the Cummings and Regent streets light was not working while the Cummings and Middle streets installation was flashing red.

Terrence O’Brian, Electrical Engineer, told Stabroek News that the Robb and Camp streets installation was programmed in the flashing mode because it was found to be out of sync with the other lights on Camp Street and would have to be assigned to either the North Road or Regent Street grid.

A regular review of the lights and traffic flow is done, O’Brian explained and the light will remain flashing until a profile is developed on the movement of traffic.

Meanwhile, the lights on North Road and Camp Street are not functioning because “junkies” have vandalised them, O’Brian said. Currently works are being done to have them functioning by next week. Vandalising of the lights, especially ripping of cables from the control box is something that O’Brian says his team has to deal with often. While finding a solution to this will include all stakeholders he says that a proposal to sleeve exposed cables is being prepared to be submitted to the Minister of Works. When the lights were being procured some members of the public had suggested that they be overhead lights that cannot be easily vandalised considering that this was a problem here. The government however proceeded with purchasing the current model.

As for the Cummings and Regent streets lights, O’Brian said that civil works on the lights did not cater for flooding and the cabinet became waterlogged and rotted. This is currently being rectified by elevating the base. The light should be working again by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, it was found that the lights at D’urban and Haley streets which have not been functioning for quite some time now were turned off because it was found that when the lights worked there were more vehicular accidents than when the lights were not functioning.

O’Brian explained that when plans were originally laid out for the installation of traffic lights, 50 spots were identified but only 47 were actually installed because it was later found that three of the locations did not require lights. Although he said that the accidents on the corner of Durban and Haley Streets were mostly because drivers violated the lights, he said that it was noticed that there was a “blind spot” which was created by one of the buildings on the corner. And as vehicles hurried to beat the amber light they were not aware of the oncoming traffic.

He noted that there was a reduction in accidents on that particular corner after the lights were taken off. He suggested however that “double humps” could further aid in the reduction.

Vehicular accidents have resulted in some $9M in damage to traffic lights since the installation but restitution for the repair of those lights has been less than a million dollars so far O’Brian pointed out.

The traffic lights, officially commissioned on July 21, 2007, were installed by Indian firm CMS Traffic Systems Limited, through a US$2.1 million line of credit from India’s EXIM Bank

They are fitted with various features including fixed time and vehicle actuated signals, directional green arrows and pedestrian push buttons.

The project is the result of a bilateral agreement between the governments of India and Guyana.

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