Some thoughts on the traffic snarls
Traffic in Panama City grows more chaotic by the day. There are a host of contributing factors, not the least of which is the disappeara...
Traffic in Panama City grows more chaotic by the day. There are a host of contributing factors, not the least of which is the disappearance from the screen of “will-do” activitiesliked the vaunted new public transportation system. Should we be expecting an eve of election announcement that might drive votes in the direction of the ruling party, currently trailing Ricardo Martinelli’s Democratic Change party, in the polls?.
Other traffic jam causes include the work on the Cinta Costera, project around the Bay of Panama, which turns Avenida Balboa into a parking lot during rush hours,
When the project is finished, parking will move into what we were led to believe was going to be a green belt, but more space has been allocated for cars than people. Meanwhile, residents in the area have been threatened with higher taxes for this addition to their view, thousands of parked cars. They can see those any night, as commuters struggle to get home, or movie goers try to reach their favorite cinema before the final scene of the film.
Other factors that help cause the daily snarls are other construction projects, bad driving habits, and the snorting, bellowing, and cancerous smoke billowing dragons of the road, better known as diablos rojos.
Some construction projects have been put on hold, through the early months of 2009, which seems an odd time, as that is the period when schools are out and traffic decreases. It is also the dry season when work can proceed unhindered by downpours and floods.
As for bad driving habits they seem ingrained in almost every driver. When was the last time you saw someone give a signal when changing lanes, or slowed down as the lights turned to red. The scores of daily accidents and break down of under serviced public transit buses add further to the traffic scene from hell.
One reader has suggested a courtesy driving campaign, to try to induce a change of temperament among motorists. This, he optimistically suggests could be led by the drivers of those vehicles labelled “for official use” It would include a carrot and stick approach. Rewards for good driving recods, sanctions for offences. This implies monitoring the drivers, something the Transit police seem unwilling to do.
Unfortunately it would be back to school for many of those who drive vehicles intended to serve the community that pays their salaries
Traffic is also impeded by unrestricted parking alongside (and on) sidewalks `painted with yellow lines even when public parking is available.
Where there is no off-street parking why not open up undeveloped building sites and turn them into car parks, generating income for the owners?. Another suggestions that has been put forward by frustrated citizens: recruit traffic wardens to ruthlessly hand out tickets, especially during rush hours. They would be paid from ticket proceeds ns given productivity bonuses to counteract bribery.
Think it’s going to happen? Like our new public transportation system it’s a distant dream, but look out for more promises when the May elections draw near. Meanwhile, ask the mayoral candidates what they plan to do about the mess.