THE EDITOR: Driving on Trinidad’s roads keeps me sharp and gives me too many reasons to practise my swearing. Dodging the potholes and crazed drivers feels like a virtual reality driving game come horridly to life, every single day. The frustration takes a toll on the mental health and car maintenance budgets of thousands of fellow drivers and it is time for a change.
Entering a roundabout in Trinidad is an exercise of faith, many other drivers practising a “pick a lane and hope for the best” methodology. Can they really be blamed though? When were they taught how to safely enter and exit a roundabout? There is certainly no requirement in the current TT road test about which lane drivers should use when they enter a roundabout, which contributes to the roundabout roulette we witness.
It is time to update the requirements of the road test. Some of the current content is outdated and constitutes an inherited monument from the immediate post-colonial era. Can someone explain to me why hand signals are mandatory in the test? We are clinging to a relic that has outlived its usefulness and tolerating an increasingly intolerable status quo of reckless driving.
I make an urgent call for the revision of the road test and the provision of more up-to-date training and guidance for the nation’s newest drivers. With this we can start to permanently shift the driving culture.
While my blood pressure permits, I’ll say a bit about our seemingly beloved potholes and just one of their apparent propagators, WASA. The disdain with which our water stewards dig up and lay bare our roads resembles scorn at best and abuse at worst. Don’t we deserve better? Should we be grateful and “hush our mouths, because ent we still getting water?” Nah man! We can do much better than this.
To those who would close ranks and protect the glaring ineptitude of the WASA structure, I say an improved WASA will benefit every single citizen of TT, WASA workers included. After all, I am sure WASA workers are fed up with the busted-up roads too. The self-contempt which makes us accept the persistent poor conditions is another symptom of the mindset that makes us swallow the status quo without meaningful moves to action. Transparent accountability is what we need.
The key to transformation is scale. Not only do we need to drive safely and dodge the destructive potholes as individuals, but we also need to lobby for change on the system level. So, for the above-stated symptoms, I suggest two treatments – contextually relevant driver training and testing, and transparent accountability for stewards of the road network.
Mr Minister of Works and Transport, start to update the road test, please. Mr Minister of Public Utilities, I applaud your recent efforts and you have my support as you call on WASA to answer for every single road left mutilated by its “repairs.” The time for change has come, and the roadways need to be more bearable for us all.
Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.
Photo by Ayanna Kinsale