With every passing day, the problem of traffic congestion on the roadways of Trinidad and Tobago is getting worse, and it seems nothing can be done about it. The usual suspects such as bad weather and accidents have been with us for a long time. However, nowadays we see, with increasing frequency, the phenomenon of traffic jams for no apparent reason. The reality is that there are too many cars on the road in an inadequate road system.
The problem is largely twofold—the building of an adequate road system and highway infrastructure have not kept pace with the drastic increase in the number of vehicles on the road. The construction of intersections and cross-over points are woefully backward at this point in time, giving way to bottlenecking all over the country. We must not fall into the trap of feeding new roads into old systems.
One thing is for sure: driving is pure hell at times, the results being increased atmospheric pollution and lung deterioration of road users. The problem of the drastic increase in the number of vehicles within the last 15 years or so, I would always say, has its roots in the foreign-used car trade. Attempts to regulate the system now is desirable, but it will not help the present situation.
I would have thought past governments would have granted licences only to those bona fide car dealerships to import foreign-used cars with proper documents and history instead of granting importation to anyone who has learnt the procedure and who has a little change. Many negatives have sprung up as a result of this unregulated trade, such as the stolen vehicles and illegal parts trade, and the loss of the life savings of many people to unscrupulous individuals purporting to be honest business people.
The average family now has at least two cars, many have three and four vehicles, which debunks the dealers' argument of bringing an affordable car to the poor man; mostly, their motives are not that altruistic, but just plain greed. Foreign-used car lots are appearing all over the place, even in Government-assisted housing developments, and new millionaires are being created daily. Is this how we want to go?
People do not car pool anymore like long time when we used to travel to work in Port of Spain in someone else's car, mostly civil servants who used to make a little change with two trips a day. The situation is terrible; maybe some genius out there could find a solution and make driving a pleasurable activity once again.