By L.K. Hewlett
St. Kitts Reporter
The issue of the no parking policy for one of the busiest streets continues to be debated amongst residents and government officials.
Parking on Fort Street was prohibited since May of this year when the nation played host to the Cricket World Cup 2007 matches. The no-parking policy remained in effect after the games were officially over when officials said they were monitoring the traffic situation in the area before making a final decision.
Business owners as well as drivers were quite vocal about the interruption to businesses on the street as well as the parking problems that the policy created.
“I’m all for the beautification of Fort Street because it is the main street downtown, but you have to consider the businesses on the street. When people can’t find parking relatively close to where they want to go, unless it’s a must, they go someplace that is more easily accessible. Nobody wants to walk a mile in the hot sun just to pick up something in a store,” one pedestrian had said.
It has been six months since the institution of the no parking policy and government has just announced that it “has mandated a study to scientifically glean public opinion on the matter”.
According to a recent post-Cabinet statement, the review is in response to numerous suggestions being made by the public.
“The government is aware that the no parking policy, introduced with the hosting of World Cup 2007 matches in St. Kitts, has created increased pressure for parking space at a time when the number of vehicles on the road is increasing due to an improvement in the quality of life of nationals and residents as a result of the economic progress. This review is consistent with government’s practice to consult the citizens and residents in matters that directly affect members of the public,” said Minister of State for Information, Senator the Honourable Nigel Carty.
It was said that government would use the information gathered in the review to guide the decisions regarding the traffic regulations for the area.
Vehicular traffic was completely restricted on Fort Street for CWC 2007 when the street was beautified with potted palms, decorative street lamps and cut stone sidewalks.
After much consultation and debates between government and stakeholders, a compromise was reached to re-open the busy street to vehicular traffic but with the no-parking policy that remains today. Vehicles doing business in the area were allowed delivery privileges.
Government is still soliciting suggestions from the public as some persons have suggested it revert to being a one-way street with parking on both sides, designated allowed parking periods, as well as keeping the no-parking policy in place.
One popular suggestion included adding a stop light at the intersection at the top of Fort Street and building a multi-level parking facility to ease the current traffic congestion.
Minister Carty stated that an update of the no-parking policy on Fort Street will be announced in the near future.
Fort Street remains the busiest street in Basseterre