Not that I am wishing it, but soon enough, another subcategory of "senseless killing" will emerge, which, like murders over sneakers, Play Whe winnings, uncomplimentary Facebook postings and vague disrespek, will cause despair among people and cause us to shake our heads, disbelieving how high frustrations run these days but believing at the same time because we know how high on violence this society is.
The illegal parking dilemma, apart from absolute lack of consideration, utter selfishness and a simple "doh care" attitude, has a unique Trinidadian impetus; we don't like to walk. As is common, we would park and walk or park and ride in other countries but not here. At home, we need to park in the mouth of the place that is our destination. If we—and I'm saying "we" to be kind; I don't do it —visit a friend, we have to park in front the gate, never mind there are open spaces on both sides of the gate.
If we're in a taxi, we need to be deposited directly in front of our workplace or home, never mind the long line of vehicles inconvenienced. If we're taxi-drivers, we must stop for passengers exactly where they stand, even if that is on a corner, around a bend or at a bus stop.
When we need something from the Quik Shoppe, our common practice is to park our vehicle at the pump and go get our items, then stand in a long queue to the cashier, leaving that petrol pump inaccessible for long spells, despite the couple empty parking spaces available for that purpose.
On late afternoons and early evenings when we want a taste of a Savannah doubles or corn soup, we have to drive up to the vendor's tent, park directly in front of it, alight and go about our business while other vehicles squeeze past, creating a back-up on the northern lane around the Savannah. Or now that the main entrance to the Savannah has been blocked off, park on the northern lane opposite Memorial Park, around the bend from Queen's Park East where parking is not permitted and where parked vehicles at once endanger lives of motorists who, of course, cannot see around the bend, and create traffic confusion as drivers squeeze into the middle lane; the third lane in that part of the Savannah heads in the opposite direction to upper Charlotte Street. This has been ongoing for months, and I am yet to see the Belmont police and/or wrecker intervene in what is clearly a major smash-up waiting to lead the daily newspapers. Drivers park there in spite of the availability of legal parking spaces 200 metres or so away.
Imagine then this lawlessness and selfishness, combined with our aversion to walking, our national predilection to "tief a chance" and hundreds of vehicles—some quite large —on weekends and holiday nights, alcohol and youths, converging in the small Woodbrook grid of narrow streets to lime on the Avenue.
So the wreckers that are inconveniencing business owners and limers on Ariapita Avenue are a godsend to the residents of Woodbrook; at least now, residents have an option when vehicles encroach so far into their gateways as to make driving into their own yards impossible, even if the wreckers can't stop nuisance limers from ringing doorbells at 3 a.m., lining residents' walls with beer bottles and throwing debris into their yards.
From their statements in the media, business owners seem to think that everyone—police, residents, Mayor—ought to sit back and allow all manner of lawlessness to continue, just so that they can earn the maximum. I fail to see why wrecking of illegally parked vehicles should stop.
And it is not true to say that illegal parking in Woodbrook is caused by too many cars on the road. Drivers park illegally because they do not want to park and walk; there is parking available outside the immediate Avenue grid. Also, the evolution of the Avenue into a liming strip has led to a number of informal businesses that contribute to the parking wars. A doubles vendor on Fitt Street corner means people park on the corner, sometimes blocking off entry to the street; the doubles man outside the Family Court on Cipriani Boulevard means people park on that major corner of Cipriani Boulevard and Tragarete Road. A car park has sprung up spontaneously on Fitt Street, south of the Avenue; it is completely illegal. Some fellas saw an empty lot, hung a rope across the entrance and voila! A short, narrow, dead-end street is now totally congested.
And I have yet to hear from business owners how they can help with this problem. Are they willing to encourage patrons to park legally and perhaps be escorted back to their vehicles? Are they willing to pool resources and rent parking space somewhere? Could they not provide shuttles for their patrons? Can they scout for legal parking spaces and advise clients where to park to avoid being towed?
Apart from constantly complaining about what is bad for business, can business people not step forward with proactive, fair and legal recommendations? Until business is willing to partner with city officials and Government to educate and assist patrons, the same patrons who spend money in their establishments, and until patrons adjust their behaviour, I commend Mayor Louis Lee Sing on his initiative and say wreck on.