freeport

Traffic gridlock in Freeport today. Photo: Donstan Bonn

Nonsensical and self-defeating.

That was how one taxi driver, who works the Chaguanas to San Fernando route, described an early morning exercise by Central Division officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service that led to a traffic gridlock along all the access and egress routes.

Similar road traffic exercises were conducted simultaneously in north Trinidad, with traffic into Port of Spain backing up as far as the interchange at Grand Bazaar.

The central division exercise involved the stopping of every vehicle entering and leaving Chaguanas to enquire of their occupants the reason for them being on the road, at a checkpoint set up at Busy Corner along the Chaguanas Main Road.

“While I may agree with their efforts to keep those who shouldn’t be on the road, off the road, it doesn’t appear that too much consideration was given to the impact it will have on those who need to be on the road,” the driver said after asking not to be named.

“For example, people who are deemed essential workers and are on their way to work, will be very late because of this gridlock, and then what about we taxi drivers who have to transport some of these workers.

“We are already working under conditions that are not ideal in that we have to carry half our usual capacity, and because of less people travelling it takes us longer to get a trip. With this exercise it now mean I have to sit in traffic for two or three hours with just two passengers. That does not make sense and it further reduces the income I would have made.”

One driver, who had two passengers in his vehicle apologised to them after asking them to exit, indicating that he was no longer going to San Fernando as it would not be viable.

“I will leave my vehicle parked until this madness is over,” he said.

Meanwhile, one citizen who gave his name as only Richard, said although he believes it’s an attempt to keep people at home, he disagrees with how it was being carried out.

“You simply can’t allow those in the right to suffer just to deal with those who may not be obeying the COVID-19 measures and instructions.

“One case in point, I just passed a man drinking a Stag beer in front of Xtra Food Supermarket while obliquely opposite to him were two police officers stopping vehicles and questioning their occupants. How contradictory is that,” Richard said.

His observation was in reference to National Security Minister Stuart Young stating at one of the daily virtual press conferences that people who purchase alcohol at supermarkets should consume it at home and not inside or in front of the premises where it was purchased.

Several taxi drivers indicated that they would not be working since the gridlock spilled over to the Chase Village Flyover, which affected vehicles travelling on the southbound lane of the Uriah Butler Highway as well as vehicles on the Old Southern Main Road heading to Couva and entering Chaguanas, with their pile up beginning at St Mary’s Junction.

Vehicles travelling North on the Uriah Butler Highway were also affected as the pile up of traffic started at the Preysal Flyover, while vehicles at the Freeport Flyover experienced the same gridlock.

During the exercise, taxis transporting more than the 50 per cent capacity were instructed to offload the excess while drivers of private vehicles operating as 'PH' taxis were made to offload all their passengers and instructed to come off the road.

One 'PH' drivers said to avoid being hassled by the police he had to drop his passengers off in advance of reaching the checkpoint.

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