The nightmare has started
We thought it would be bad in October once the schools started, but as anyone who was out and about on Friday can attest, we now know that the coming Christmas will be a nightmare on the roads.
From what one could see, there was no real reason for the traffic jams, no road closures, no accidents. It was just the sheer number of cars on the roads at one and the same time and in the same place.
We will get repeats of this in the days leading to Christmas and especially in the shopping and entertainment districts.
Now this to a very great extent nullifies the reason for the Christmas jollity. People who have to spend two hours or more in endless queues, only then to find it hard or almost impossible to park, will realize their shopping spree has been turned into a nightmare.
So, too, people on their way to a Christmas party or gathering. What starts off as a festive occasion can easily become an evening of tension or misunderstanding.
Now in our tradition, Christmas is not Christmas without festive gatherings and/or shopping. But to turn either occasion into an excursion of tension defeats the very purpose of Christmas. What should be a time of joy and communal festivities becomes a time of tension, which brings about accidents and incidents, maybe road rage and a general exasperation of spirits.
Now it is clear to one and all we have brought this upon ourselves and we have been long doing it. To allow so many thousands of new cars to enter the market, and to allow our streets to remain what they have always been (if not worse) was nothing else than environmental suicide.
It must also be said that this government and the one preceding it have not done much to alleviate the situation. The PN administration absorbed many EU funds to do up, beautifully, roads to the North of the country which many do not use on a daily basis, whereas the many difficult nodes were left mostly untackled. The present administration has continued work on the Coast Road and is now doing the Kappara Junction upgrade, which, again need doing, but at the same time the many difficult nodes have been left as they have always been.
It is clear that the traffic congestion situation cannot be solved from here to Christmas, nor for many more Christmases to come. The country must get this clear in its mind.
Equally, however, the country must realize this is a huge problem that does not surface around Christmas only and it is getting worse day after day. The country must also realize that to tackle this problem requires far more money than has been spent so far (not including EU funds) and that rather than mere patching, what is needed is deep, strategic, long-term.
However, it would also seem that neither on Friday at noontime nor on Friday evening were the police noticeable by their presence to help the traffic flow. This must not mean that traffic jams have to be blamed on police absence but a police presence could help.