New traffic mess
Like a thief in the night, the Ministry of Works has surreptitiously moved to scrap the West Port of Spain Traffic Plan, adding yet another layer of confusion to an already confused matter.
With more public relations machinery at its service than any other government in the history of this country, the Ministry of Works has chosen to avail itself of the barest minimum of public information resources by announcing its decision on its low traffic website.
It simply boggles the mind that on an issue of such intense public interest, with highly divided opinion, the Government should take such a cowardly way out by acting without accepting its obligation to explain and account for its action.
That the traffic plan's biggest champion, the Mayor of Port of Spain, was not consulted or even informed ahead of the website publication, simply adds to the general bewilderment.
It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that this sudden and sneaky about turn on the contentious traffic plan is part of the fall out from the bizarre controversy that developed last week between the Minister of National Security and the Mayor.
Together, these two had formed an unlikely alliance across political lines in support of the traffic plan. Given the venom that has been spewed since their very public break-up, reasonable people would tend to wonder whether the sudden dismantling of the plan is not some puerile response to the souring of that relationship.
Whatever the reason, good and transparent governance demands that the authorities come clean with a full and clear explanation of its action. Having already incurred substantial financial expenses and public dislocation in effecting this traffic plan, the authorities must detail its rationale for aborting the traffic plan ahead of its three-month experimental phase. The public needs to be convinced that this action is not just another expensive political tit-for-tat or mis-step which it must swallow without anyone ever being held accountable.
If the argument is that the plan has failed and cannot be allowed to extend into the new school term, the Ministry needs to say so. But that still does not allow it to escape the responsibility of solving the traffic congestion between the capital and the western communities.
Over and over, the country is being subject to governmental bungling on what some believe to be an unprecedented scale. From State of Emergency to traffic plan, public trauma due to ill-considered and poorly planned decision-making remains unrelieved.
Additionally, there is the financial cost attached to the repeated misadventures financed by taxpayers' money. In the case of the aborted traffic plan, a plethora of traffic signs will now have to be removed, white lines erased and lights changed, assuming that the authorities care enough about public information and convenience.
It is clear that the desperation to get things done is feeding the lack of planning. But, as the evidence shows, action without due thought and planning is a guaranteed route back to square one.