Last Sunday, the Buxton Mash celebrations took to the streets within the environs, affording residents in the nearby villages a close-up view of the costume and float parade. As usual, the grand spectacle, through the kaleidoscope of colours and the vibrancy in the revelry, was conspicuous serving to bring people together as part of the country’s Republic anniversary observances.
Celebrations aside, there was the unfortunate lengthy build-up of traffic on the East Coast of Demerara. Naturally there will be such delays given the lack of alternative routes for the diversion of traffic; however, what transpired confirms the urgent need for the Police and maybe the Public Infrastructure Ministry to relook arrangements with the intention of reducing the waiting time by the travelling public.
What compounded the issue was the inability to have full access to the Railway Embankment due to a reported bridge rehabilitation. With prior knowledge of the repairs, that should have been factored in, given that only one thoroughfare was left available to accommodate both the usual Sunday traffic and the parade.
While there will be some grouse, commuters will understand and accept some level of delay to facilitate the national celebrations. However, that delay was unnecessarily extended, ironically, after the end of the parade! At that time, with no floats to pass, many, including those who participated in the parade and onlookers, were partying on the said thoroughfare thereby bringing the flow of traffic to a halt for unacceptably long periods into the night.
Commuters were forced to spend hours just to pass through one village. Shocking was the limited Police presence at that time and with a seeming disinterest in the traffic build-up. Many, while in the traffic, were of the opinion that the parade was still ongoing only to realise that their inconvenience was as a result of the after party. Clearly the Police could not have been oblivious to the situation down on the ground.
It was the same last year and similarly, children, the elderly, the sick and possibly those on their way to the two international airports would have been tremendously inconvenienced. This brings to attention an incident a few weeks back when a huge oil-related machine fell off a trailer-truck at Mc Doom at Greater Georgetown. The traffic stalled for hours as three lanes were blocked.
Again, while there will be a build-up and which is compounded by the large number of vehicles traversing the roadways, it’s difficult to accept the extended hours and the apparent lack of effective measure to bring much needed relief. One aspect that could have helped to reduce the lengthy delay was to swiftly allow North and southbound traffic to alternately share the fourth and available lane under the direction of traffic ranks.
In addition, and as carbon-copy in every situation that leads to traffic jams, inconsiderate drivers quickly transform the four-lane road into an eight lane jockeying for any space to give them a believable advantage to get ahead. This inevitably blocks the lanes making it not only extremely difficult to manoeuvre, but adds precious time to the commute from the resulting bottleneck. Unfortunately, this regular occurrence seems to escape the Police as their presence in very often concentrated only at the source.
Crucial in such circumstances is the need for motorcycle patrols to help prevent the bottlenecks and to safeguard a response if an emergency were to unfortunately arise from someone trapped in the congestion. Some drivers unashamedly bully others in these situations which in turn heighten anxieties for children and vulnerable others. These situation of risks cannot be ignored and must be part of the Police’s planning and response. Large number of ranks at the point of the incident, though needed depending on the severity, is not enough to reduce the congestion and waiting time.
As the country continues to develop, more and more vehicles will be added underscoring the need for other alternative roads especially on the East Bank of Demerara. While that is awaiting to be realised, every day, additional vehicles enter the roadways. This makes it even more imperative for the Police to derive a more effective mechanism that can be sustained. Too much time is being lost from these daily build-ups and it takes a toll on commuters, including schoolchildren, many of whom are forced to adopt early departure routines.
It becomes unfathomable that in these modern times Police ranks are consumed with manning traffic lights when a simple daily recalibration to suit the priority morning and afternoon traffic can be easily implemented given most, if not all, are computerised. With that, some of the ranks can better be used in mobile patrols to ensure errant drivers are not creating bottlenecks on the carriageways.
This makes a compelling case for designated lanes especially for minibuses. It must be adhered to and offenders face the court. The Police, with its own constraints, can also better utilise the CCTV cameras at various points. That implies a need for more so that defaulters would know that the roads are monitored. The major setback for such well-intended suggestions, is the “blind-eye syndrome” by some ranks. That begs the question of who should be monitored.