Trinidad is a lawless society and this is demonstrated daily especially on our nation’s roads, from minor traffic offences to fatal traffic offences. The answer that was given to address this runaway problem is the Traffic Warden Division of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. This is a solution adopted from our English counterparts. Unfortunately this best practice approach is not a best fit solution for our country. Our lawless society does not compare to that of jolly old England. Traffic wardens are a dog without a bark, and are only successful with law-abiding citizens. When faced with opposition they often fail, almost by design.
Traffic wardens have no power of arrest, no defensive tools, no communication devices and very limited legal authority. According to the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act Chapter 48:50 Section 56 (2), only a transport officer or police officer may request a driver’s documents. This means that even if they can give tickets, if a driver refuses to co-operate they can get away “scot free’’.
The black vest they wear was revealed to me to be a stab proof vest, and not bulletproof that I believed it to be.
The physical fitness of some is very questionable at best along with their size and age.
Traffic wardens are supposed to assist police officers in traffic regulation, but they are not substitutes. It was also revealed to me by a traffic warden supervisor, that the requirements for said position were lowered to allow senior officers to be promoted.
I was also told the turnover rate is very high with officers leaving for “the real thing’’, the Police Service.
Many officers apparently use this job as a stepping stone to join the service. It seems clear that this is a failed experiment and the Police Service should take back these positions on our nation’s roads. Even if Special Reserve Police are used the respect and power of that uniform can solve the problems. But to get police to direct traffic is another problem.