Local authorities lay plans to alleviate traffic during high season
Saturday, October 29th, 2016
The tourism high season is around the corner and with that comes an increase of arrivals to Ambergris Caye flocking the streets, restaurants and hotels. One of the most popular services heavily utilised during this busy time of the year is golf cart rentals, which adds to the congestion of the traffic system the island has. In an attempt to address the anticipated issue, The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) and the San Pedro Traffic Department (SPTD) have come up with different strategies in order to avoid accidents and alleviate the congestion during high season.
Downtown traffic congestion can be a chaotic situation, and with more vehicles and golf carts on the island, the problem just keeps growing. Chris Nuñez, head of the SPTD, said that he and his team are working on a plan that will monitor the amount of town traffic until the late hours of the night. “We are planning to have traffic wardens doing night shifts in order to further monitor the flow of traffic,” said Nuñez. “With the high season fast approaching, we are aware of the increase in traffic, therefore, we want to also increase our presence on the streets and maintain safety at all times.” Nuñez added that it is during the evening hours and into the night that more monitoring needs to be done as that is when people are mostly driving in town as they head to restaurants or bars to recreate. “Another crucial component that will help us, will be the joint work with the police in case we need their assistance in law breaking scenarios,” he said.
Another issue that comes along with traffic is when numerous tourists complain that traffic wardens issue them tickets on their first offence. Nuñez indicated that the SPTD is working to alleviate this problem by emphasizing good hospitality. “Every morning we have our sessions, and we encourage our wardens to practice good customer service and public relations, especially with our visitors. We are aware that our street signage is not the best, and it has caused a lot of tourists to complain because they get ticketed. We will be also be encouraging rental companies to give tourists adequate information in regards to traffic regulations. But we try our best to tell our wardens to give our visitors a break and educate them instead. We’re hoping to have a good season this year,” said Nuñez.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero cited that this upcoming high season might be bigger since a new airline will start flying to Belize on Saturday, October 29th, from Canada. In view of this expected increase in visitors to the island, Guerrero said that they will be soliciting the help from foreign expertise. “We can do a lot on our own in trying to alleviate this problem with the excess of traffic, however, we want to use the experience of an expert in this matter,” said Guerrero. “We are happy to be able to soon count with assistance of a consultant from Canada, who will render its services to us via the assistance of the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project known as CARILED.”
Guerrero believes that it is possible that for once and for all the traffic issue on the island can be controlled. But he believes that the community needs to cooperate and abide by the regulations set by the local traffic department. “I have instructed the traffic department to go harder on the motorcycles and anyone speeding on the streets,” said Guerrero. “However, the motorcycles are becoming a bigger issue. We hope that with the help of the police we can set check points in different parts of the town to make sure everyone is abiding by the laws and practicing safe driving.” Guerrero indicated that the check points will serve as a form of educating the public on safe driving and to understand the importance of following rules. “Only two persons will be allowed on a motorcycle, this will be heavily enforced and helmets will be a must. And I mean motorcycle helmets, not bicycle helmets,” said Guerrero.
In the upcoming months, the SPTC will be investing in putting up signs on the streets, not just in downtown but in all sub-divisions. It is expected that it will further assist people to drive safe or at least help them to follow traffic regulations. Guerrero also mentioned that by having good roads, the traffic congestion in one area can be alleviated, thus, after the rainy season slows down, most of the streets that need to be fixed, according to the Mayor, will receive the necessary attention so traffic can then be spread out and relieve the pressure on the paved streets.