At a public meeting of the National Roads Authority (NRA) held in Windsor Park last night, residents raised concerns regarding the lighting of streets, traffic and the relationship between the police and the community.
In the case of street lights, it was discussed at the meeting that, for safety reasons (following an alleged incident of stalking), a community representative requested that the NRA consider arranging the installation of more lights on various streets.
One of the NRA’s representatives present confirmed the receipt of the resident’s request and that the NRA is also dealing with similar lighting requests across Grand Cayman. However, in order to process lighting requests, the NRA must complete various steps, including visiting the area to make an assessment. Upon completion of the assessment, the NRA would communicate with the utilities company to enhance lighting in certain areas. This improvement in lighting conditions may allow all residents to feel safer at night when exercising or otherwise utilizing the streets at night. With over 6,000 streetlights in Grand Cayman, however, such installation comes at cost, being over one million dollars per year, paid for by the NRA out of funds allocated by the government to the NRA.
Another issue raised at the meeting was traffic i.e., Windsor Park being used as shortcut or as a “highway” by road users. This, of course, leads to a higher volume of traffic in Windsor Park, especially on Oakmill Street.
High traffic not only leads to inconveniences for residents of Windsor Park who are trying to get to work on time during peak hours, but it is also a safety issue when it comes to children playing in the area or seniors going for a walk in the neighbourhood.
To address this, an NRA representative noted that a possible solution was to have police officers stationed at certain entrances to Windsor Park during peak hours. During this time, vehicles would not be allowed to turn into the neighbourhood, exacerbating traffic issues. The NRA representative also highlighted that, although nearby communities like Webster’s Estates had recently erected a privacy gate as a solution to prevent a high flow of traffic and to improve safety, that option was unavailable to Windsor Park because Windsor Park roads are public roads and not private roads that can be closed off to the public like Webster’s Estates.
Connected to the traffic issue is the tendency for road users to speed through the area, notwithstanding that the NRA recently installed more traffic calming devices (i.e., speed humps) to slow down vehicles traversing the area. Regarding this, an NRA representative highlighted that speed humps are not a solution on its own, but police presence is also needed to address speeding. To be fair to the police, however, resources are sometimes a challenge and the police cannot be everywhere at the same time to catch every violator of the traffic regulations.
Relationship with police
Of course, if the police are present at all times and crime is deterred, the relationship between members of the community and the police could improve. In this case, community members would be willing to report crime and other issues frequently and the police would act quickly to resolve them.
The problem with reporting crime, however, according to one resident, is that there is a decreasing level of trust between police officers and members of the community. This is caused by police officers who allegedly share whistleblowers’ information with suspected criminals. This, in turn, makes whistleblowers reluctant to lodge complaints with the police as suspected criminals would be able to identify them, leading to safety concerns for whistleblowers and their families. Objectively speaking, such a scenario can quickly become counterproductive in the achievement of the goal of reducing crime, including traffic violations, in the area.
It was clear from the exchanges at the meeting that solutions can only be achieved if the community, the police, the NRA and other agencies work closely together. In addition to this, all parties must communicate, share information and respect the confidential nature of shared information.