Basseterre, St. Kitts, (April 28, 2017 )—With the record number of auto imports and sales over the last two years since the new Team UNITY government took office and as the population of drivers dramatically increases and the number of vehicles on the nation’s roads continues to skyrocket, with 30,796 licensed vehicles in the Federation and 28, 874 licensed drivers, new methods of traffic control and organization have become necessary. Over the next 18 months, the Traffic Department will be reorganized and restructured to reflect a modern traffic department in service of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, which is to be led by a Superintendent, who will be responsible for traffic issues in both St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Traffic Department has underscored that it is no longer appropriate and safe for traffic control to be regulated by merely posting traffic signs and the occasional patrolling of a few police officers.
Additionally, the Traffic Department is burdened on a daily basis with administrative functions such as, issuing temporary drivers licenses, conducting driving tests, and painting road signs. As a result of this, traffic police do not have enough time to travel around checking on motorists. This creates an opportunity for motorists to break the traffic laws without fear of being caught.
The work of the Traffic Department to ensure that traffic laws are adhered to includes enforcing bus stop regulations, cell phone use, use of seatbelts, helmets on motor cycles, littering, speeding, adherence to traffic signs and other offences, which requires an operation of nearly 24 hours daily.
According to the Traffic Department, the reorganization and restructuring of the department should include twelve vehicles (motor cars) and at least twenty-seven police officers. Such a highly- manned Traffic Department should improve traffic enforcements and reduce criminal behaviour by addressing casualty reduction, counter-terrorism, reduction in anti-social use of the roads, denying criminals the use of the roads and improvement of public reassurance by the visible patrolling of the road network.
Also, the expanded Traffic Department would participate in general policing duties as well as mounting special operations to improve road safety. The department will also have specialized sub-units such as a Collision Investigation Unit (C.I.U.) and/or a Forensic Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Unit (F.C.I.R.U.) which would facilitate proper follow-up investigations in the event of fatal accidents or very serious collisions.
The modernized Traffic Department will also utilize specialized equipment, which will include a Car Video System fitted to both marked and unmarked traffic vehicles and motorcycles with the aim of improving driver behaviour and road safety; an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) System, which is housed in a mobile unit with infrared and colour cameras used to capture images of vehicle number plates as they pass by where the index number is read automatically and checked against a number of databases, including Registration Data Base held on a computer. The ANPR would be an extension of the CCTV Surveillance System that is being established.
The restructured Traffic Department will see the installation of Parking Meters, which are devices used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited time. The recommended cost is $2.00 per hour. Other provisions include patrol vehicles and other traffic accessories and the procurement of a police wrecker to remove derelict vehicles as well as illegally parked vehicles from the street at the owner’s expense.
A new site has also being proposed for the reorganized and restructured Traffic Department.