The crazy bottleneck that constitutes Camp Street between Quamina and Middle Streets on both sides of the avenue from Monday to Friday, unless there’s a holiday, is as much a result of poor planning as it is the new city traffic culture.
This ‘new’ culture was born in part from the bully tactics employed by some operators of public transportation who seem to work by their own set of rules, and in part from what is either a determination not to observe traffic rules or ignorance of same by the nouveau riche sitting in their expensive but seemingly easily replaceable vehicles.
Time was when drivers took care not to park directly opposite another vehicle in the same street, taking cognizance of the fact that many of the city’s streets are very narrow. This no longer applies. People stop and park wherever and whenever they want; there is absolutely no thought or consideration given to other drivers who may come along. If they can’t squeeze past, they must wait until the inconsiderate ones have completed their business or their conversation or whenever it is they feel ready to move. It has become a norm for driving buddies to pull up alongside each other and block the thoroughfare while they exchange pleasantries or make arrangements to have a drink later on.
It is a fact that there are too many cars and too few roads, but this is also compounded by a lack of common courtesy. There is too, a seeming willingness to flout traffic laws, bend rules and push the envelope. It’s almost as if some drivers are daring the traffic authorities to make them obey. For the most part, it seems like the drivers have won.
The Camp Street area had long been a bit of a problem at certain hours of the day, owing to pupils being dropped off and picked up at St Margaret’s school. But this was only up to certain time in the morning and for a period during the afternoon.
With the advent of the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) office the area has morphed into what could only be described as bedlam. Traffic officers can usually be seen keeping order along Camp Road, at least as far as Lamaha Street in the morning hours and sometimes in the afternoons. The GRA’s logjam section however, seems to be off limits.
If the erring drivers were ticketed, the traffic offences broken there on a daily basis would prove a definite revenue booster and perhaps would end. But maybe the traffic officers don’t even know how to begin to address that confusion.
But that is not the only section of the city where chaos reigns on a daily basis. Illegal parking, double parking, stopping in no-stopping zones, the coining of phrases like ‘the hot plate’ and ‘undertaking’ to explain drivers law-breaking, the ignoring of pedestrian crossings, running red lights, and ignoring stop signs denoting major roads are just a few of the infractions that are widespread across the downtown area.
There have been complaints about the lack of parking lots in the city and while these are valid complaints, the ones that do exist are rarely used. The GRA lot at Lamaha Street, which was highlighted in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper is a case in point. The problem is that very few drivers are prepared to park and walk to where they need to be. And parking outside business places is no longer feasible. The situation is so dire that we all need to rethink and reconfigure how to make it work and it often will necessitate adding an extra 10 or 15 minutes to our journeys to deal with finding secure parking and walking to and from that area to where we need to be.
Drivers are not the only bugbear to city traffic; pedestrians are bringing up a close second. School children in particular, use the roadways in a very dangerous manner. So much so that one wonders if road safety is still taught in schools today. This happens around almost all of the schools in the city with only a few exceptions. In fact, children attending schools near the problematic Camp Street area add to the insanity between 3 pm and 4 pm on school days. Parents need to continuously speak to their children about observing traffic rules. They also need to lead by example; it is not uncommon to see adults jaywalking and inhibiting the flow of traffic with their small children in tow. There is need for education all around and patience as well.