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June 27, 2007

Comments

EB Christen

100% on the mark.

My question is: how long will the general public read and learn about all the great ideas that really do exist for the serious and focused redevelopment of the port, downtown, the traffic situation, the road system, the public transportation issue, education, law enforcement and judicial issues etc etc etc, before they DEMAND REAL ACCOUNTABILITY from these politicians - be they FNM or PLP?!

The ideas have been out there for 20 years or more in some cases, but nothing is done. The PLP blame the FNM and the FNM blame the PLP and the cycle repeats.

To give an example: it is laughable to read the PLP castigating the FNM, after just over a month in power, that nothing is being done about the Straw Market - laughable, but this passes for public debate in this country and will continue to do so until Bahamians stand up and demand more from these sycophantic, self-aggrandizing, pathetic and hopelessly unimaginative bureaucrats that sit in the house of assembly. The PLP had 5 years to fix the straw market and in 5 years did nothing - it is time for them to shut up and be the opposition and make sure the job is done right, not make noise about hot air foolery!

Watch the parliament channel Bahamians - watch what YOUR TAX DOLLARS are funding - that's right YOUR TAX DOLLARS - YOUR IMPORT DUTIES on food, gas, clothing, construction materials... YOUR STAMP TAXES on transactions and legal affairs - watch their 'debate' and see what a sorry excuse it has become. It is beyond embarrassing. Many, many Bahamians live under the illusion that they don't pay taxes, but income tax exemption doesn't mean tax exemption. You buy a car, put gas in that car, buy food, buy clothing, do something at the bank, buy property or go to court - at every one of these steps - the government has taken from your pocket - maybe not directly, but it charges all the businesses that offer these services and these businesses charge you - the Bahamian consumer. They have to - they don't have a choice. It is a lot of money... You can look at this and weep... or...

better yet..

STAND UP AND DEMAND MORE! Protest in Rawson Square, write to the newspapers, bombard the Minister's offices with phone calls, emails, letters, sign petitions...

Bahamians should be screaming for an answer as to why Education was allotted 31 million in the budget and the PM's office under Christie was going to get 23 million and under Ingraham 13 million. Now, Ingraham took a step in the right direction - you can give him that, but in a country with a billion dollar budget - how is eduction only getting 31 million out of 1000 million total available and how can the PM's office get 2/3 or even just 1/3 of education's budgeted figure? Yet, we give our ministers and many, many government employees cars and gas for cars and let government pay for it all as if we were the wealthiest nation on earth. Our MPs drive cars that US Senators would be envious of! It is laughable! Every Bahamian in the street will tell you that crime and education are the number one and two problems facing the country's future.

Nothing will change until it is demanded and no politician will actually get serious about pursuing a serious vision for the country until that is demanded - until such time, it will be bandaids and knee jerk reactions and BS and hot air in the House of Assembly. The choice is ours to make!

Pam Burnside

We enjoyed this article on the land (or lack thereof) in the Bahamas last week. I have this idea for another article on cars and how they are impacting our way of life in this small island:

1) Who benefits from car purchases: the car dealers, the banks, the insurance companies, the government (duty, stamp tax, licensing (car and drivers) etc) the petrol gas companies. It would be interesting to calculate how much revenue accrues to these entities per annum??!! SO they would not want to make noise about too many cars...their bottom line is healthy...so who will do the complaining as the amount of cars continues to grow and grow?

2) If you do a rough survey looking at how many persons there are inside each car - mostly 1, maximum 2 - why do we need such big cars if we are not transporting a lot of bodies or things? Limit the size of cars.

3) Why don't we have a PROPER functioning efficient PUBLIC BUS SERVICE? which would take care of our need to get around this small island. The funds HAVE to be made available to research the proper way of doing this. The jitney drivers association seems to have a good plan from what I have read...government agencies don't seem to want to work with them. The longer the private bus drivers/owners are in charge of public transport without government working with them, the harder it will be to get both parties to come to some sort of agreement.

4) The island is so small, but there isn't an efficient public transport system, so everybody HAS to drive. How many cars are there per household? (I would reckon at least 2/3 per household on average - 3/4 in many - because everyone is going in different directions. Can we impose a limit on how many car owners there should be per household? Should the banks, insurance companies etc then buy their own bus and set up a pickup schedule for their employees (that's a novel idea - adults can become like school children and get on the bus).

5) We do not have a tradition of car pooling so I doubt if we will just adopt the habit. You know Bahamians - they don't want to be beholden or bothered.

6) Jackson reckons that if we look at the amount of cars that are licensed in the country and if you would calculate the average length of a car and measure the sqare footage of the main arteries of Nassau, if we line up the cars bumper to bumper on these main roads they would stretch easily around the island, even a couple of times maybe!

7) Parking issues - we have too many cars and not enough available land mass, so everyone is on the road at the same time and then the cars are parked for the majority of the work day.

8) PI workers - as you mentioned - if they could have a bus system to pick them up and ferry them to and from work it would impact traffic during shift changes.

9) As you also mentioned, staggering work hours - isn't it ridiculous that we spend a least an hour getting into town from the east or west because of traffic?? It is absolutely nonsensical.

10) Where are the abandoned cars going? Are they still crushed and exported?

11) What is the pollution potential for exhaust in the country, especially with diesel from the jitneys? Has any study ever been done?

12) Schools - is it viable for schools to invest or contract out for buses and adopt busing policies for the school children? They do this in the Family Islands you know.

13) More roads = more tarmac= more heat!

14) Make Bay Street pedestrian only as suggested.

15) ROUNDABOUNTS close to TRAFFIC LIGHTS (argh-h-h-h!!) do NOT work - eg Village Road, Marathon, East Street South, etc, etc. Get rid of the roundabouts and SYNCHRONIZE the timing of the traffic lights at the newly created crossroads.

EB Christen

To Pam Burnside:
I like all your points save for the last one.

I say get rid of dumb traffic lights near round abouts and then figure out how to get rid of MORE traffic lights and put MORE roundabouts where appropriate. There are so many dumb lights that CAUSE traffic... this to me is the bigger fish to fry!

Study after study in Europe has shown that free flowing traffic, wherever possible, works better than trying to get traffic light synchronization right. If the Europeans, with their first world notions of maintenance and upkeep are banking on roundabouts over traffic lights, then shouldn't the Bahamas, with our deplorable standards of maintenance and upkeep, accept that this might be better as well?

On public transport, car limits per size etc... you are 100% spot on.

Cheers!

Percival Miller

Agree with Pam Burnside's point (11) about the need for a 'potential pollution' study, as it could buttress the public transportation and environmental planning (meaning public health) goals already set out or adopted from elsewhere. High numbers of active vehicles in crowded cities, in both developed and undeveloped countries, have been shown to be a major contributor to asthma and respiratory disease, especially in children and the elderly.

The high number of vehicles coupled with the smallness of the area and the high summer temperatures could cause a future conflict, as there is less of a sink for the inevitable pollutants (though local air flow and precipation patterns might be of benefit). The article and comments already suggests inevitable traffic bottlenecks, which causes delays and thus greater idling of engines, including of diesel-powered public transportation and freight vehicles (which speculatively would increase outputs of particulates, etc. from partially combusted fuel). Apart from the possible future and hard-to-remove public health impact, chronic pollution can also impair the surface of buildings and the streetside vegetation. Its obvious that clean, fast, safe and very affordable public transportation (however distributed or devised) would have a key role in avoiding an undesirable scenario, along with low-polluting private vehicles including high-mph, electrical, hybrid, small, and other vehicles that would meet the planning goal. But once we know how big the problem is, change presents a perhaps much more protracted problem, as everybody has to be convinced that what they are doing is good for them. It is however no stretch of the imagination to suggest that low air pollution could help sustain our tourist industry, as well as the health of our population and our inherited natural assets.

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