Editorial for February 02: The growing traffic dilemma

 The Cayman Islands might have difficult time trying to convince anyone else in the world that times are tough; at least anyone who read the front page article in the Caymanian Compass yesterday about the nearly 50,000 vehicles registered here.

That figure amounts to a approximately one vehicle for every soul living in the Cayman Islands, a number even more astounding when considering that about 15 per cent of the population are children younger than the age of 14.

We can only assume that there would be even more cars registered here if the Cayman Islands hadn’t experienced a significant population contraction over the past couple of years. But how will our roads handle the traffic if some of the projects discussed by the government recently get off the ground, bringing thousands of new residents to the Islands?

One way to deal with the problem would be to limit the number of vehicles imported. However, as former Cabinet Minister Gilbert McLean said in response to a question in Finance Committee in 2005, “that would be an excellent idea if it were practical.”  While anything can be practical if mandated, Mr. McLean knew then, as all politicians know now, that limiting the number of vehicles that can be imported or owned by voters would exact a harsh toll at the polls. There’s always the possibility of limiting expatriate households to only one car or truck, but that could not only hurt the attractiveness of the Cayman Islands for needed professionals, but could also add divisiveness here. Building more and better roads is probably part of the solution, but the National Roads Authority can only build so many roads on an Island as small as Grand Cayman. Ultimately, the solution will have to come from better public transportation that runs on time, on specific routes and near all heavily populated areas. With a better public transportation system in place, Government could impose additional financial burdens on vehicle ownership such as higher import duty fees, higher registration fees or premiums on having multiple vehicles registered in one name. But until residents have a viable public transportation alternative, our roads are going to continue to get more clogged with vehicles.

1 COMMENT

  1. Whilst it might seem to be rather alarming that there are nearly 50,000 cars registered here isnt it more relevant to consider how many legal drivers of these vehicles are present in the Islands. Families often own several vehicles but a single driver can only drive one vehicle at a time. So while you count 50,000 vehicles the number of drivers is more likely to be, say, 20,000.

    If government has a desire to literally put the brakes on the problem they should look at linking the DVLAs vehicle tax information with the Traffic Police unit. A regular check of these records would indicate which vehicles have been properly licensed and a fine levied on any delinquent owners whose vehicles remain untaxed. The law could also be changed to allow the police to seize and confiscate any vehicle which is being driven without insurance and subsequently either auction the vehicle or have it scrapped.

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