Wednesday, 09 May 2012 02:30
By Rawlston Pompey
Frequently, one may encounter “…people with no sense of reality.” These are usually seen as the ones who may have lost touch with reality.
Invariably, such may be perceived from their speech, conduct and/or action. Most were not so certified or had no institutionalized residency. Therefore, not infrequently had it been said by well known radio personality JAMES ‘Sly J’ SIMON, that there were more psychiatrically-troubled people in the wider society than there were at the “…CLEAR VUE” psychiatric hospital. Such has always been part of human perceptions and/or their experiences.
In addressing issues of national and/or public importance, human sensitivity and commonality in understanding have often been two critical factors that may determine consensus, acceptance and/or rejection. Equally of grave significance were public education and awareness. Situations like these may require some degree of prudency in conceptualizing, formulating and/or executing plans.
Also critical to successful implementation are risk analyses, methodologies and approaches to that which may be counterproductive. These may help to remove the potential for hostility and antagonism, thereby likely to impact negatively on good human relations. Experience has taught that even with acute considerations of their significance, the sane and collected may view certain methodologies and approaches as being illogical, irrational and rife with utter “…MADNESS.”PSYCHOLOGICALLY TROUBLED
It was such “…MADNESS” that had brought to bear on the hapless, innocent and vulnerable people of society, unnecessary “…hardship, untold pain and misery. Given the seemingly current chaotic traffic situation, this appears to be holding true for the “…disobedient motorists.” Its collateral effects were also said to have had some bearing on the law abiding and compliant business operators within the commercial center in the nation’s tiny capital- St. John’s. This sector was said to have operated as one of the “…cogs” in a wheel that helps to stimulate and drive the nation’s economy, whether ailing or flourishing.METHOD TO THE MADNESS
Interacting recently (days preceding Labour Day) with an evidently very intelligent female patron at “1st CHOICE,” supermarket, while she was expressing concerns over the seemingly growing, chaotic and untenable Traffic situation on the streets of St. John’s, she had shown that like other motorists, she was frustrated and psychologically troubled. Suffice it to say, she had displayed no sign of “…MADNESS.” However, in making a point, she had described the traffic situation as “…METHOD TO THE MADNESS.” It was to be understood that even though there was a”… METHOD” in bringing respite to road users, there may have been some semblance of “…MADNESS.” Fascinated by the comment, the idea for “…re-arrangement” of the words” dawned, as to become the title for this commentary.HIGH COST OF LIVING
It would have been expected to hear the female, self-driven patron complaining of the noticeably and irrefutably “…HIGH COST OF LIVING.” She appeared to have found someone who, seemingly to her, was willing to listen to concerns far removed from shopping. Such cost appeared to have been least of her concerns. Even as she appeared to have been carefully scrutinizing the variety of food items, the prices and meticulously selecting that which may have been most needed, she had uttered no comments on the comparatively and competitively priced items. While shopping and conversing, she had demonstrated that she was not a person living miserly.DISCONCERTING STATE OF AFFAIRS
In view of previous experiences in “…Traffic Management, Regulatory and Operational Control,” it was evident that she was prompting a professional response to the rather disconcerting state of affairs. Thus, it was considered prudent and courteous in according her some attention with intermittent explanations. Despite her obvious displeasure, she was not only acutely aware of the chaotic traffic situation, but also the inadequacy of parking spaces, compounded by the scant consideration and discourteous attitude of some motorists and seemingly aggravated by overzealous and aggressive tendency of some enforcers. Reluctantly, she accepted that there were many “…decent, upright, committed and professionally competent and considerate personnel and such tendencies were not the culture of the agency. However, coming under intense public scrutiny, recent developments, may have changed her perceptions of the image and reputation of the personnel, service and behavior of the organization. Such state of affairs is as disconcerting as the apparent “…MADNESS IN THE METHOD.”HORROR OF PARKING
Interestingly, her gravest concerns had been the seemingly vexed issues of the excessiveness of “…YELLOW LINES” that had significantly restricted parking and what was perceived to be the apparent indiscriminate issuance of Parking Tickets for minor traffic infractions. She needed an escape from the “…HORROR OF PARKING” and retorted, “…There is no place to park and the officers don’t use any discretion.” She appeared deeply perturbed over “…the towing of motor vehicles and resultant damages. Given the methods and/or approaches, it was very clear that in her mind, it was consistent with “…MADNESS.” From Law enforcement perspective, it may have been consistent with the “…LETTER” and “…RULE OF LAW.”LETTER AND SPIRIT OF LAW
The female motorist had demonstrated that she was law abiding, exhibiting maturity and a deep sense of responsibility. She was mindful of the need for effective traffic control, equally as much as she expected some degree of “…REASONABLENESS” on the part of those charged with enforcement. Thus, it was evident that her primary concern was the apparent “…rigidity of enforcement; …towing and ensuing damages to motor vehicles that had far exceeded the penalties for the minor traffic violations.” She had echoed the concerns of both motorists and business operators within the city environs. There were those who had entertained the notion that the Law ought to be enforced to the “…LETTER” (rigidity). Conversely, there were others who firmly believed that it ought to be enforced by the “…SPIRIT” (flexibility). Experience had shown that the former notion had often been fraught with difficulties for both offenders and enforcers. In the former, there is “…MADNESS TO THE METHOD.”RESTRICTED PARKING
Motorists, including commercially driven vehicles and members of the business community had not only seen a density of traffic on the city streets, but also the predominance of “…Yellow Lines” everywhere. The lines had virtually eliminated “…FEATHER PARKING.” These denotes “…Restricted Parking,” thus placing all motorists at a grave disadvantage. Consequently, the situation had forced many motorists to do the “…THINKABLE-” parking their vehicles on “…LINES” where such restrictions were either obscured or clearly marked.FIGMENT OF IMAGINATION
In many instances, except for “…FIGMENT OF IMAGINATION” and the commission of the minor parking violations, there had been no “…real dangers; …actual hazards; …safety risks or traffic impediments.” Most had done so to enable swift conduct of legitimate business transactions and quick exits. This situation had resulted from the fact that the inadequacy of parking spaces, allowable only for “…PARALLEL PARKING” had been occupied by employees of the various business establishments, engaged daily at their work places from as early as 7am to 4pm. There were no other officially designated parking areas.INCONVENIENCE/DEPRIVATION
The parking restrictions had affected quick and free movements in the commercial center. Thus, in the apparent “…TRAFFIC MADNESS,” motorists were faced with two evils. Firstly, the possibility of “…INCONVENIENCE” through seizure and secondly there was the possibility of“…DEPRIVATION” of the use of their motor vehicles through impounding. The business community were equally as concerned over the “…adverse effect” such restrictions had on the commercial sector. With some degree of obedience, the female motorist was not prepared to risk payment of a penalty of one hundred and fifty dollars ($150) for conducting a business transaction costing less than one fifteenth ($10) of the penalty. However, since “…necessity knows no law,” she would have preferred to pay the penalty, as opposed to seeing her vehicle towed indiscreetly and “…negligently damaged and/or impounded.”POWERS/DUTIES
Lest it be misunderstood, Section 4 of the Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, Chapter 460 imposes a duty upon the “…Traffic Commissioner to regulate and control traffic on public roads.” Additionally, Section 81 (2) (e) empowered him to “…Restrict or prohibit the parking of motor vehicles in any area or on any part of any road.” Except with the apparent anomalous situation with “…Traffic Wardens,” such powers appeared not to have resided in any other agency, authority, body or person.PRESENCE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
The female motorist knew that the presence of Law enforcement personnel on the streets were to address these very contentious issues and was prepared to avoid adding to the plight of others and her deprivation and financial detriment. In such circumstances aggrieved parties reserved the right to litigation. Section 9 (2) of the Constitution Order 1981 provides for such recourse. It states “…Every person having a right to or over property of ANY DESCRIPTION which is compulsorily taken possession of, shall have the right of access to the High Court, among other considerations for the determination of the legality for the taking of possession and for the purpose of obtaining compensation.”AUGMENTED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES
Consequent upon the daily traffic congestion and the need to regulate and ensuring that there was no impediment to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, they had seen an extraordinary increase in the presence of Law enforcement personnel, augmented by “…CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES” brought about through an apparent “…ANOMALOUS”- (irregular/strange/abnormal/uncharacteristic) provision in a Statutory Instrument No. 13 0f 1995, designed and enacted primarily for management and administration of a Statutory Corporation- the Transport Board. Such was subsequently amended by No. 22 of 1998, providing for the appointment of persons, uniformed, but appearing on the roadways conspicuously head-gearless as “…Traffic Wardens. Such dress code had contrasted the official uniforms worn by the “…PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED” and experienced Law enforcement personnel.CITATION/OBJECTS OF ACT
Lest there be illusions, misconceptions or misperceptions, neither in the Police Act, nor the Vehicles and Road Traffic Act were there references to “…Statutory Corporations” as “…Law enforcement Agencies.” Other than the “…ANOMALY” appearing in the “…Transport Board ACT,” respecting “…TRAFFIC WARDEN,” the Enactment’s “…aims and objects” unambiguously states “…An Act to establish a Transport Board to promote efficient management ‘Ground Transport;’ …To ADVISE the Government on matters relating to Ground Transportation; and to …manage; …maintain and …organize the use of Government vehicles in an efficient and economical manner and all other matters vested in the Board” [No. 22 of 1998]. Among the key functions of the Board were “…Regulating Fares; …Rates; …Fees and other Charges relating to Ground Transportation after CONSULTATION with the Minister (MP TREVOR WALKER) and with the APPROVAL of Cabinet.” These are functions seemingly being admirably, efficiently and creditably performed by its General Manager HARRY JOSIAH and a competent and committed Staff.FUNCTION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
The primary functions of the Law enforcement agency is “…Protecting and Serving the citizenry and the maintenance of Law and order.” In spite of its purpose and “…METHODOLOGIES,” there was never room for administrative blunders and/or operational “…MADNESS.” Hence, it was to be seen as a “…Service Oriented organization.” For some strange reasons, Members of Parliament knowingly inserted in the Transport Board Act a provision for the “…appointment of persons to perform in the capacity of “…Traffic Wardens” for the expressed purposes of enforcing the “…Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) Administration and Enforcement Act, Chapter 461. ISSUANCE OF PARKING TICKETS
The female motorist also knew that both the national Law enforcement agency and State Corporation’s employees- TRAFFIC WARDENS, each equipped with the dreaded Ticket Books, had been observed busily issuing “…Restricted Parking Tickets” to offending motorists, including Law enforcement personnel, likened to the rains that fell on Labour Day.
This situation had been further worsened by the delayed completion of a multi-million dollar “…state of the art” national Car Park. It had been argued that such initiative may have prompted the authorities into painting the parking spaces on the streets in an unmistakable bright-coloured “…YELLOW.” To the incessantly complaining motorists and a disapproving business community, there appeared to have been some “…MADNESS IN THIS METHOD.”