Drivers fume over return of traffic jams

| 17/09/2020 | 240 Comments
Cayman News Service
Early morning commute, 14 September

(CNS): With students back in school and parents back in the office, traffic congestion levels have quickly returned to pre-COVID-19 levels for commuters in the Eastern Districts. Drivers are fuming that government has failed to take the opportunity to press the reset button to better manage the commute for thousands of workers coming into George Town at the same time every morning.

Previous talk of retaining flexi-hours and home working for both government and the private sector employees has failed to materialise, as cars have been bumper to bumper again this week. Even though current estimates suggest that the population has fallen significantly with the departure of many work permit holders, the traffic woes for people living in the eastern end of Grand Cayman continue.

Drivers have been venting their frustrations all over social media, with people living in East End and North Side back to getting up at 5:00am to make it to work for 9:00, and those from the populated areas of Newlands inching their way to work in traffic backed up to their doors. Tearing their hair out over the sudden return to the same significant traffic jams that were blighting working lives before the pandemic, the main question people have is why government has not taken the opportunity to implement a new approach.

CNS has contacted Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Premier Alden McLaughlin and Minister Joey Hew, who is responsible for roads, for comment on what is evidently a missed opportunity to introduce staggered working hours and retain home-working in government and about incentives for the private sector to do the same. We also asked about moves to introduce better public transportation, as well as innovative measures for car pooling and other ways for people to move around.

Although over the last few months all three men have talked about these ideas as ways of dealing with the country’s traffic problem, we are awaiting a response regarding our latest inquiry about the sudden return to the old normal.

Just three months ago, answering a question from CNS, DG Manderson said that the “silver lining” from COVID-19 had been the seamless transition many civil servants made to doing their jobs at home. He said that remote working would become a more common option in future, even when public sector offices reopened. He said the experience could “fundamentally change the way we operate” as well as alleviating the traffic problems.

But drivers are asking what had happened to that idea, as government workers appear to have returned to the office en masse.

Minister Hew recently said that ongoing roadworks, which began under lockdown, and a change to school hours should alleviate congestion over the next few weeks. However, there seems to be little evidence of any improvement.

The premier also indicated late last year in his strategic policy statement that dealing with traffic congestion was a priority for 2020. And while the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted plans, he has spoken often of the need to find a public transport system that will negate the need for the growing number of cars on our roads.

The COVID-19 restrictions demonstrated clearly that allowing people to work from home had a massive impact on the road congestion. Suggestions that government could incentivise employers to allow people to continue using technology to work at home for part of the week and to stagger work start times do not seem to have materialised.


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Comments (240)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am a disgruntled civil servant … my department worked effectively from home 98% of our work is electronic based … we were not given an option to continue to work from home … We got a DIRECTIVE VIA EMIAL to return to work sept 7th. DG may say “work form home is an option” but the front line bosses disagree and pretend that the workers want to come back to the GAB … its not us .. its our COs and Department heads to blame.

    • kaymam says:

      At least you got it in writing. My boss played around like a child who didn’t want to say yes but still said so. Acted so stink when I said I would be working from home. I got the same sh!t done that I do every day in my cubicle.

      I’m flattered that you missed my presence that much, but seeing you in person is NOT worth 2 hours of traffic a day.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Those roundabouts are there because they are cheap to build and maintain. Even if everyone drives perfectly, they have to slow down to 15 and this soon backs up for miles. Spend a little on timed traffic lights.

    • Anonymous says:

      Err, traffic lights mean you have to stop on red, as opposed to slow down or give way. Your argument contradicts itself.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hurleys roundabout is an absolute joke. People leaving to enter Grand Harbour have to cross three lanes, and those coming out have to cross three lanes to go to Town. Over engineered and over complicated. As for making three lanes approaching Hurleys into two lanes beyond, classic filter to congestion

  4. nauticalone345 says:

    Government just recently spent millions to upgrade the fuel depot and DVES. Those two departments, along with their neighbours, PWD and NRA, are all in onle very congested area of the Airport Industrial zone. Within a stones throw are DOE, Water Authority, MRCU and DEH. All of the associated vehicles MUST refuel (with related heavy equipment and much marine craft). All other government vehicles must also refuel at this one spot – this includes West Bay and Eastern Districts vehicles (Police, Fire and others) when the system (private fuel stations) used recently was working much better. Why?
    Clearly the time to move some of the mentioned departments out of the very congested Airport area has come. And the refueling depot should not be the sole place to refuel – it cause too much unnecessary traffic in one location.
    How can the powers not see this?

  5. nauticalone345 says:

    What’s happening with the Bobby Thompson Way?…some 15+ years overdue now?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Really do not believe that more roads will solve the issue. Making more roads will bring us right back to this same problem a year from now. Less cars seems to me to be the best alternative. Why not adopt some of the practices of other countries have in this respect? For instance, limiting the amount of cars per household would be a great start.

    • Anonymous says:

      I can only drive 1 car at a time. It’s about lack of driving skills and enforcement. Also no construction vehicle should be on the roads between 7-8:30 and 4:30-5:30.

  7. Jonathan Adam says:

    18/09/WTAF2020 wrote at 6:11am under the title; Stop Building in Bodden Town and the Eastern Districts’. Here is my verbose response with a few words which some may not be comfortable with, so be it;

    You made some really good comments in regards to the cabal/cartel of greed induced developers and the government departments/charlatan elected officials who would and will work hand in deceitful hand with them as a purposeful ignoring of foresight remains the order of the day and is an as of yet unhindered status quo. That the direly needed infrastructure to support, contend with and accommodate this massive ‘development’ is taken as little more than an inconvenient afterthought by those who whose overriding guiding force is a self serving greed is obvious. As such, that those with said mentality have a collective indifference has long been as obvious as the sun itself rising in the East and setting to the West. That is granted as valid, however, what you have done is put the cart before the horse in a most egregious way.

    The migration of people to the East is a direct result of an overwhelmingly majority of folks being displaced from and/or priced out of any possible opportunity to buy land or build and/or buy a home in or on the Western side of the island. This is the direct result of a concerted effort to create a real estate ‘bubble’ for those of a certain ‘set’ to put down their roots in the more established and logistically convenient part of the island. This has been done at the expense of and detriment to multigenerational Caymanians (among many others) whose very roots are on the Western side of the island. As such, your commentary in this regard is not only asinine but it is also completely ludicrous unless the intent is a disingenuous and conceited attempt to displace people completely out of existence in their own homeland.

    That it is many, if not most, of the same people who have in recent times come to Cayman and made it their home who now now seek to act in the most diabolically conceited way and expect for a burgeoning reality to remain unacknowledged as it presents an inconvenient truth to their poncy, unrealistic and hypocritical ‘the new bourgeois’ mentality and indifference to anyone’s interests except their own insipid and decrepit insular cabal/s is something which should not be allowed to be lost on anyone. That is the reality, and it is more often than not exhibited publicly as vile vitriol and abject idiocy behind the screen of anonymity which this forum provides. Much of the commentary on this very article is indicative of it. It is these same coward blackguards who have made comments to the effect of favouring mass sterilization of anyone except their own selves as they plod along in the delusions indicative of an undeserved superiority complex as buck nekkid as the proverbial naked emperor.

    Said sad reality is that it is more often than not the aforementioned set of people who will now inhabit the vast majority of new developments which destroy the coastal and mangrove estuary environments. It is they whom one can be assured will then sit on the porches of their SEA side residences whilst contentedly casting aspersions upon others when it is their very own presence which has culminated into the damage done and the issues therein. This in conjunction with an overabundance of horticultural chemicals which are deadly toxic to all marine life entering the sea as runoff from their properties. Of course, this is left unaddressed and the consequences diminished in order to placate one’s needs for ‘pretty landscaping’ while nary a single native and/or indigenous species of flora is left standing.

    Moving on, and putting all of these matters of an overtly inequitable construct to the side for the moment. The reality is that a migration of many sectors of our overall population is not only now unavoidable but it is also imminent. While those like the Chamber of Commerce and their muppet masters who would and will continue to endeavour to jack up the population above and beyond 100,000 head in order to feed an insatiable and self serving greed with no real consideration for a meaningful, sustainable or equitable economy beyond public relations stunts, hollow rhetoric and propagandized malarkey, said burgeoning reality remains regardless of whether or not one has one’s head in the sand and ass to the sky or if one cannot see beyond one’s own upturned nose.

    The same can most unfortunately yet quite rightfully be said of what the National Trust is and has become, regardless of whether or not it’s concept is a venerable one. The reality is that they too are seen to be guided by the ‘cocktail circuit’ of subversive private sector interests who have not only gained a paid for yet illegitimate power and influence over decision making processes but are also those who have accepted the desecration of our natural environment as ‘necessary’ for some (and it has to be said the very land upon which they themselves stand and/or have their own homes), yet then, in a most disingenuous fashion of fallacy, seek to disallow it for others after the horse has long bolted the proverbial barn and the precedents have long been set.

    If and when one is able to take an objective view of these matters, there is a reality which demands the implementation of the arterial bypass network of road systems in order to mitigate that which has become a living nightmare for far too many people. There is the need for a reliable public transportation network which does not include the present day shit show of minibuses constantly causing traffic accidents which hold up the flow of traffic for insane periods of time, or so many near misses that by the time one get’s to one’s destination one’s blood pressure is so high that heart attack seems imminent. There is the need for overpasses at the major bottlenecks and choke points, as it is the one and only way to find a solution to the problem without disrupting the flow of traffic coming from any given direction depending on the time of day. The roundabout at Hurleys which has been done and redone so many times now that the cost of that never ending comedy of errors could have paid for the overpass itself. There is the need for many workable, practical, efficient and viable solutions to these issues and it is doable but it will not happen in the presence of an unmitigated institutional corruption. The responsibility for this lays squarely upon the heads of elected/public/private/colonial powers that be. Therein be not only the real issue but also the major stumbling block to much needed solutions. This proves beyond shadow of doubt the need for a paradigm shift in all of these matters and an acknowledgement of the naturally occurring cause and effect contributing factors which have now culminated into an extremely high cost of living while the transgressors enjoy ‘concessions’ when they are the last people on earth to deserve them. The quality of life for everyone, except the select few who benefit from these disparities and are actively seeking to insulate their miscreant selves from the consequences, goes down the crapper.

    These things have to change, it is a necessity. The solutions and at the very least potentialities for mitigation are there, but they have to be pursued with a loyalty to the Cayman Islands and her people with neither fear nor favor, above all else, and to the exclusion of any and all others as it pertains to a list of priorities. In the absence of such, one can only expect for an exponential increase in the severity of these issues and the correlated continuance of an exacerbated sociological degradation and loss of quality of life as just a few of many negative consequences which even the most blind or willfully ignorant men and/or women can see or sense barrelling down the road like an out of control ‘Mack’ truck carrying a load of marl for another one of Dart’s ‘projects’.

    • Anonymous says:

      Too verbose . Get to the point quickly, Or you will lose impact, even if your argument is valid.

      • Anonymous says:

        I was hoping you would say write what Adam wrote. I’m too lazy to read a book right now!

        • Anonymous says:

          I summarise for Adam.. Good read reminds me of Dickens.. Bleak house….

          1) local people priced out

          2) rich people acting snobby

          3) developers not paying their way

          4) place too expensive

          5) people greedy and politicians select few corruptish pushing for 100,000 people

          6) overpass needed at Grand Harbour

  8. Anonymous says:

    Rode my bike today and it was great.

  9. G Croszan says:

    Caymanians you voted for this Enjoy! Couple of posters were ridiculed and criticized for suggesting drastic cuts to our population down by reducing the amount of immigrants we are now allowing to come in ! Expat are not to blame for this its our very own who are deriving benefits from this situation.

  10. Sucka Free Cayman says:

    You Keep electing Population expansionist politicians who deceive and mislead you every 4 years about their true intentions until they plumb themselves down in their comfortable seats and begin negotiating the sale of you and your children to the highest bidder.Then you come on here and bald your eyes and bare your soul about the level of attrition,discrimination and frustration you face and confront at work in public and on our roads. Insanity is described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same outcome?

  11. Anonymous says:

    You made some really good comment in regards to the cabal of greedy developers and the government departments who would and will work hand in deceitful hand with them as a purposeful ignoring of foresight with the direly needed infrastructure to support this massive ‘development’ being seen as an inconvenient afterthought by those who whose overriding guiding force is a self serving greed. That is granted as valid, however, what you have done is put the cart before the horse in a most egregious way.

    The migration of people to the East is a direct result of many, see the overriding majority of, folks being displaced from and/or priced out of any possible opportunity to buy land or build and/or buy a home in or on the Western side of the island. This is the direct result of a concerted effort to create a real estate ‘bubble’ for those of a certain ‘set’ to put down their roots in the more established and logistically convenient part of the island, and at the expense of and detriment to multigenerational Caymanians whose very roots are on the Western side of the island. As such, your comments in this regard is not only asinine but it is also completely ludicrous unless the intent is a disingenuous and conceited attempt to displace people out of existence in their own homeland.

    That it is many, if not most, of the same people who have in recent times come to Cayman and made it their home who now now seek to act in the most diabolically conceited way and expect for a burgeoning reality to remain unacknowledged as it presents an inconvenient truth to their poncy, unrealistic and hypocritical ‘the new bourgeois’ mentality and indifference to anyone’s interests except their own insipid and decrepit insular cabal/s. That is the reality, and it is more often than not exhibited publicly behind the screen of anonymity which this forum provides if one so chooses.

    Said sad reality is that it is more often than not the aforementioned set of people who will now inhabit the overwhelmingly vast amount of new developments which destroy the coastal, mangrove estuary environments, and one can be assured that they will then sit on the porches of their SEA side residences whilst contentedly casting aspersions upon others when it is their very own presence which culminated into the damage done as horticultural chemicals which are deadly toxic to all marine life enters the sea in order to placate one’s needs for ‘pretty landscaping’ and nary a single native and/or indigenous species of flora is left standing.

    Moving on,and putting all of these matters of an overtly inequitable construct to the side for the moment. The reality is that a migration of many sectors of our overall population is not only unavoidable but it is also imminent. While those like the Chamber of Commerce and their muppet masters who would and will continue to endeavour to jack up the population above and beyond 100,000 head in order to feed an insatiable and self serving greed with no real consideration for a meaningful or equitable economy beyond public relations stunts, hollow rhetoric and propagandized malarkey.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Working from home could help with many different problems.

    There would be less traffic on the road and I am sure there would be less employees taking sick days.

    That’s government – they say one thing and do something different.

    I wonder why government won’t demolish the old glass house and build a nice office space, with underground parking, so they can have their employees in one building, instead of paying rent for office space at other places.

    • Anonymous says:

      And how would be building an additional government administration building in GT ( the first one was meant to achieve what you suggest BTW, but apparently some departments didn’t want to/ couldn’t move in) reduce the traffic in from the Eastern districts? Build it in East End or at least in Bodden Town if it’s a traffic issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        To 11:44 – the comment was made, not about reducing traffic, but why are they paying rent to other land lords, when Government could have their own building. For example, WORC and some other government agencies are in the old Walkers building, which they are renting. Some CBC are in the Cayman Centre, which they are paying rent for and the old glass house is just sitting there as an eye sore.

      • Anonymous says:

        There should be a government office in each district staffed and visited by all who live there. Encourage private sector companies to build satellite offices in the districts and to the same. Everyone is headed to the same place at the same time.

        Combined with flexible and remote working options we could minimise the need for more roads and plan more effectively.

        The health risks to employees associated with 20 min+ commutes and unreasonable, inflexible employers are HUGE! The 2-3 hour commute and dangerous driving people from the East endure at each end of an already long day is without doubt affecting their health and ability to do their jobs. They barely have a life outside work and they’re headed for burnout. Employers seemingly care little but in the long term, productivity and their business suffers.

        It seems despite Covid-19 and the resurgence of cases we’re currently seeing all over the world, rather than learn lessons and become better prepared many seem to be sticking their heads deeper back into the sand. Will we ever learn?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Your article seems to be blaming government for bad traffic.
    Why don’t the same people that are complaining about the traffic do something positive to cut down on the traffic. For instance…Dad is driving to work near to where the kids are going to school, yet Mom is taking the kids to school even though Dad could have dropped them off! This is typical. Maybe the complainers would like it if government were to say it is now mandatory for kids to get to school by school bus? Don’t think they wouldn’t like this too much either. OK we know this government and no past government have ever been perfect….far from it….but I am sick of people blaming them for everything when they can’t put themselves out one iota to make a difference themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      What if mom works too? You assume women are homemakers only?

    • Anonymous says:

      Traffic isn’t that bad coming from Newlands. I can leave at 7:00am, drop my son to school (Walkers Road) and get my husband to work by 8:00. (I go in a little later). I’m grateful I can leave home 30 minutes later these days. Some people just don’t want to deal with any sort of traffic, but it’s part of life when everyone goes to work around the same time and the schools are located in the same area.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are two ways in from Newlands, and one from the East all the way to countryside. You would have to leave 2+ hours earlier to achieve the same thing and sit in bumper to bumper from BT to countryside. One accident, you’re stuck.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because 50% of the traffic on the roads is government workers.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m sick of them building new roads and not actually addressing the problem

  15. Anonymous says:

    Coordinated traffic lights at Hurleys and by the Sports Center. Get rid of those two whacky roundabouts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Still need to get a better road system after that. Including through the horse centre..,,

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, fewer roundabouts would very clearly help.

      • Anonymous says:

        its not the roundabouts that are the problem, its lack of knowledge on how to correctly use them and bad drivers not using turn signals…..

        • Anonymous says:

          They clearly slow the traffic. Get rid ofthem.

          • Anonymous says:

            Actual scientific experiments have been done. Roundabouts are the most efficient way to keep traffic flowing.

            What needs to be addressed are the legions of idiotic, selfish and incompetent drivers.

            Before you say, but traffic lights are simple… even idiots frequently manage to drive through on red and cause crashes.

            #fixstupid

          • Anonymous says:

            Or learn how to GO when you have space.

    • john says:

      Those orange posts on the roundabouts are nuts.

      I have driven round some seriously high traffic roundabouts like Hyde Park Corner in London and L’Etoile in Paris and none of them have posts between the lanes or lanes closed off with striped lines.

      Not sure whose idea it was but get rid of them quick because they don’t help.

      But traffic lights on the roads onto the roundabouts during rush hour only DOES work.

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