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Disobedient pedestrians cause problems in HWT

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicoabserver.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2013    

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OFFICIALS yesterday expressed disappointment at how pedestrians responded to the traffic changes in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew,

and have vowed to maintain a presence in the busy square to ensure that the new rules are obeyed.

On Sunday, the National Works Agency -- in collaboration with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, the Ministry of Transport and Works and its Road Safety Unit, and the National Road Safety Council -- implemented the changes, which included audible pedestrian signals in the Half-Way-Tree square.

But yesterday, despite the brightened pedestrian crossings and improved signals, many were seen crossing the busy roadway wherever and whenever they wished.

"We are happy with the way some pedestrians responded to the changes, but there are others who have displayed a level of indiscipline," said Kanute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit at the Ministry of Transport and Works.

Hare made the comment as staff from the unit assessed how well the system worked from strategic points in the busy square.

"Some of the glitches we have seen so far [are caused by] pedestrians [who] want to cross anywhere they feel like; but this cannot be allowed to continue," said Hare, who warned that offenders would be dealth with.

According to Hare, four pedestrians have died in traffic accidents since the start of the year. More than 80 were killed in 2012.

"Over 80 per cent of the pedestrians killed on our road network last year were using the road improperly. Therefore, we will have to deploy the relevant strategies to ensure that our pedestrians and motorists adhere to rules and regulations," he emphasised.

Hare's views on the indiscipline among pedestrians were shared by the police on hand. One senior officer stressed that he believes stiffer penalties would keep the pedestrians in line.

Meanwhile, yesterday motorists and pedestrians expressed mixed views about the changes.

"I am still not sure how the system operates," said a woman who gave her name only as Marcia, as she stood at the traffic light at the intersection of Constant Spring and Suthermere roads.

"I don't think it will work," motorist Barrington Teters commented.

However, Joel Smith said he welcomed the changes and believes it will improve traffic movement as people become familiar with the process.

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