The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) is expressing "guarded optimism" regarding the announcement by Mayor Joel Martinez and Deputy Mayor Hillan Morean to ‘’reduce’’ the activity of wreckers in “Port-of-Spain” by 50 percent.
"For clarity, we wish to advise that the Port-of-Spain City Corporation is the beneficiary of wrecking revenue only from the west Port-of-Spain regions of Woodbrook, St James , St Clair and environs. The beneficiary of the revenue from Wrecking in Downtown Port-of-Spain (POS) is the Mobile Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service(TTPS). We have no confirmation yet as to whether there is any plan to ‘’reduce’’ wrecking in Downtown Port-of-Spain. We shall seek urgent clarification from His Worship the Mayor and from the Commissioner of Police(COP) on this question," DOMA said in a statement on Friday.
DOMA said that the wrecking of automobiles under the present arrangements has precipitated devastation of commercial activity and can be directly linked to the destruction of jobs in both Port-of-Spain regions where it has been reigning.
It said that the absence of a parking policy that marries the needs of all stakeholders has created conditions ripe for abuse by the operators and the Police authorities that manage the wreckers.
"Under the screen of “enforcing the law” cars have been continuously towed especially from areas in which there are no signs indicating when and where parking is allowed and from streets where there is no congestion being caused and in the early morning hours when there is absolutely no obstruction caused. In downtown POS, now that regular users know of the scam, the wreckers have taken to towing commercial “T” vehicles doing legitimate business in the city," DOMA said.
DOMA added: "While we appreciate the recognition by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of this wrecker abuse and the promise of a reduction in the attacks on motorists and business people we do not quite understand what a “50% reduction” means? Are we going to be in a “half-pregnant” wrecking state? Is it being suggested that citizens will only be abused half as many times? Why should we be abused at all?"
The business association said that what is needed to reverse the destruction of jobs and the violation of the rights of citizens is the urgent implementation of a sensible parking policy.
"Such a policy would include but not be limited to the conversion of Woodbrook and St James into a sensible one-way unidirectional traffic flow in keeping with the grid system of those streets and which will allow on-street parking that will not violate the needs of residents but will make it possible for more interests to co-exist. The Traffic Management Division of the MOWT has these plans. For Downtown Port-of-Spain a parking policy is desperately needed to allow parking on the many underused streets from which the TTPS wreckers are reaping almost Five Million Dollars per year," DOMA said.