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Being a pedestrian in New Providence is not easy. Nearly 20 pedestrians lost their lives in 2012 and already New Providence has recorded its first pedestrian death (January 5). Pedestrian deaths are too common on this island.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force keeps a watchful eye on tourists and local pedestrians downtown, but elsewhere Bahamians are left on their own. Walkers, joggers and cyclists share many of our roads which barely support two passing SUVs. Even with reflective clothing and common sense, surviving seems to take a bit of luck.
Congested areas like Shirley Street have sidewalks placed ad hoc with no cohesive approach. Kemp Road and other frequently used roads with high density residential dwellings and schools need attention. Parents should not have to fear their children crossing a street next to the school.
Though the New Providence Road Improvement Project upgraded and installed much needed sidewalks, some components such as the placement of concrete islands are puzzling. The crosswalks at Baha Mar are difficult for oncoming drivers to navigate. Not only do drivers have to stop nearly in the roundabout, but pedestrians are hard to see ahead and to the left when drivers are focused to oncoming vehicles from the right. Vehicle and scooter accidents occur frequently and Baha Mar has yet to open.
Motorists tend to incur most of the blame, but pedestrians share responsibility for keeping aware of their surroundings. With iPods and cell phones, pedestrians can be just as distracted as drivers; a dangerous gamble to play with a ton of metal whisking along side.
The Bahamas must commit to greater pedestrian safety. If we want to encourage a more active community, we have to make Nassau more amenable to pedestrians. Downtown is hardly an enjoyable place to walk or to drive. People cross at any point regardless of crosswalks and drivers are forced to stop at green lights when the seemingly unaware tourist strolls into traffic. It is a frustrating experience for all.
The RBPF must continue to issue citations for traffic violations, particularly for aggressive driving which occurs outside of police check points and continues to be neglected. Aggressive drivers have too much freedom and treat the highways like a race circuit. We must install cross lights that provide a countdown of time to cross the street. And in highly congested areas like Baha Mar stoplights with pedestrian call buttons to force traffic to stop only when pedestrians are present would appease walkers and vehicles alike.
Pedestrians and motorists share responsibility for road safety. Yet, the overwhelming number of traffic related deaths attributed to pedestrians is too high. Crossing the street at any time of day should not be an exercise in fate.
A TOURIST was taken to hospital yesterday after losing control of a rented scooter.
The accident took place at about 3.45pm at Go Slow Bend in Nassau, along West Bay Street, where it appeared the scooter rider had lost control of the vehicle and struck the wall between the road and the sea.
A number of other scooter riders were on the scene, along with an ambulance and a police car, before the ambulance headed towards the hospital with the injured tourist.
A group of jet ski operators claimed yesterday that the government has lifted a moratorium on their industry and this could put them out of business.
"At this time we don't need the door open for persons to have an unlimited number of jet skis," said Philip Moss, who heads the Cable Beach Tropical Water Sports Association.
"It is not good for the industry because there is already a sufficient [number] of jet skis for the business [because] there is limited beaching space."
Moss said there are certain operators who are planning to introduce multiple jet skis to the industry.
"What's going to happen to the beach? This will turn Cable Beach into a battle ground because we plan to stand our ground," he said.
Moss claimed increased competition will lead to increased confrontation and possible violence among operators.
He added that some people already have a negative view of the water sports industry.
However, despite efforts to curb the negative image of water sports in the Bahamas and improvements made in regulating them by government, the high number of jet ski related accidents and in some cases loss of life has continued to taint the image of the sport in The Bahamas.
The U.S. Department of State website warns visitors about water sports rentals in The Bahamas stating that, "the water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated. Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment. Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."
"... the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain."
- Khalil Gibran
I was fortunate to have spent this week in Rome, en route to Switzerland. During this Italian sojourn, I visited numerous prominent historical attractions that many only read about in school books, view in movies or see in tourist brochures. During my entire stay in the Italian capital, I was frequently reminded of Khalil Gibran's observation that often we more deeply appreciate our own environment from a distance. Accordingly this week, we would like to Consider This... what are some of our reflections from Rome that help us to more fully appreciate the small country that we call The Bahamas?
Europe is very different from North America. And like the United States, the countries within Europe are as different from each other as are the different cultures, ethnicities, conventions and idiosyncrasies of the individual states that form the American union or even the different islands of The Bahamas.
Immediately upon arriving in Rome, the often expected difficulties that one could anticipate with border control were non-existent. There was no sense of immigration paranoia about foreigners that one sometimes encounters when traveling abroad. It was refreshing to experience such a welcoming and relaxed, almost nonchalant, vetting by immigration officers at the airport.
One of the earliest observations was that virtually all automobiles in Rome are very small - best characterized as either compact, mini or miniscule. The absence of large vehicles was extremely noticeable, as urban residents either use scooters as a primary means of transportation around the capital or the fairly reliable public transportation system of buses and trains. It is said that there are more scooters in Rome than automobiles, the result of both skyrocketing fuel costs combined with the ease of parking in public places.
One quickly appreciates that Italians are Euro-centric, with little concern about what's going on in the Americas. The majority of people I engaged about the state of affairs in Italy expressed a disappointment with the quality of Italian life since joining the European Union, primarily because of the adverse impact on the level of salary and wages and the replacement of the Italian lira with the euro in 2002.
Watching the news on television offered another perspective of and discernible difference in Italian life. Apart from the limited number of English-speaking channels in my hotel, it was obvious from the channels that were available that Italians are not inundated with CNN or other American media as we are in the Americas. Rather, Al Jazeera, Euronews and BBC World are viewed with greater regularity with those news services presenting a more balanced reporting of world news, again with greater interest and focus of what is taking place in Europe, Africa and Asia. For example, while scrolling the news channels, the latter broadcasts focused more on diverse international developments whereas CNN International, while reporting on selected international developments, provided more American news.
Notwithstanding claims about Italians' apathy to politics, I got the distinct impression that this is not a completely accurate assertion. The Italian Parliament, which is comprised of more than 600 deputies in the lower house of Parliament (the Camera of Deputies) and more than 300 senators, seems to be very active and engaged. While visiting the Italian Parliament, I observed several organized, albeit rancorous, demonstrations in front of the Camera of Deputies. I was also advised that this is a common occurrence, that Parliament meets regularly and that there are always organized demonstrations outside by Italian activists.
The church and history
There are certain realities that transcend national boundaries. Citizens here express disappointment about the level of taxes imposed by the Italian government, including personal and corporate taxes. There is also a value added tax (VAT) rate of 21 percent on goods and services (10 percent in restaurants), which some observe has significantly contributed to the high level of domestic prices. Another common feature of this society is the number of people seeking alms, although it appeared that more women engage in this activity than we are accustomed to seeing.
During a visit to Vatican City, one could only marvel at the enormous impact that the Catholic Church has always had on Italian culture. Historically, more than 16,000 people visit Vatican City daily, although since the election of Pope Francis in March, the level of daily visitors has increased to 25,000.
Although Rome has a population of four million, the streets of this city felt safe for walking, both day and night. Security in Rome is provided by a ubiquitous police force particularly in the city center, including regular uniformed officers, and the elite Carabineri. The regular army is even present in some places. Of course, the Swiss Guard protects Vatican City.
I visited the usual tourist attractions, including the Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna (the Seven Steps), the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Castel St. Angelo, the Forum, the Coliseum, the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Chains, and the Vittoriano Monument - a large white marble edifice in Piazza Venezia, which was erected to commemorate the unification of Italy in 1861. Wherever you go, you will find that residents of Rome have a tremendous sense of national pride about the role that Rome has played in the history of civilization.
Italians have every reason to possess such pride, having regard for the enormously incalculable contributions that Rome has made to the development of politics, academics, culture, the arts, jurisprudence and civil society.
The resurgence of the appreciation for the importance of the Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance is visible on an international scale as well. These time periods were recently featured in films beginning with the movie "Gladiator", other Hollywood productions of Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" and recent TV series such as "Spartacus", "The Borgias" and DaVinci's "Demons".
Rome is a city of contradictions and ironies. During the Roman Empire, Rome led in the persecution of Christians, including the crucifixion and beheading of Sts. Peter and Paul, respectively, along with many other Christian martyrs, but it is also the city which ultimately became the center of the Christian church and the establishment of the Vatican as a separate and autonomous state and the seat of Catholicism.
It is also ironic that the some of the most beautiful churches in Rome were built with stones that were taken from the Coliseum, where Christians were executed, and from the pagan temples of the Forum where the early polytheistic Romans worshipped. It is equally ironic how many previously taboo pagan practices, rituals and customs were amalgamated or absorbed into the Christian church, particularly during the reign of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity.
Although we do not enjoy the millennia-long historical perspective of all that Rome has to offer the world, we in The Bahamas should also be proud of our accomplishments as a young country. From its earliest days, settlers both black and white demonstrated a robust resilience against great odds. They were able to survive by coaxing crops from the barren rocks of our islands. They withstood storms and starvation for centuries and created the vibrant society we call The Bahamas, complete with a rich culture, vigorous democracy and promising future. Certainly there are many exemplary episodes in Bahamian history that we can be as proud of as any Roman. All we have to do is make more of an effort to learn our own stories.
My recent visit to Rome provided not only a deeper understanding of the city that I visited nearly 20 years ago and of its contribution to humanity, but also a richer appreciation of Gibran's observation that "... the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain."
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two paramedics have been suspended following claims that they forced injured tourists to pay for treatment and transport to hospital.
The actions of the two-member crew are now being investigated by bosses at Emergency Medical Services.
It is alleged that two visitors injured in a traffic accident were the victims of extortion - having been told they would have to pay up-front for treatment and transport.
The tourists were said to be riding a scooter at the time of the accident, but it is not
EDITOR, The Tribune.
We just returned home to Minnesota from a cruise to your beautiful island. I want to thank you so much for the wonderful experience we had.
We rented a scooter (yes! we are dumb Americans who actually did that) and had an absolutely wonderful time exploring New Providence Island. Everyone on the road was very accommodating and helpful - many laughing at us and several drivers and pedestrians asked us if we were OK - obviously not used to the left side of the road. From the moment we left the ship everyone in the Bahamas that we met and talked to was very friendly, very helpful.
I love your home and hope to return someday.
January 11, ...
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard reminded student-athletes who competed in the 26th Annual Father Marcian Peters Basketball Tournament, yesterday, just how great they are, calling them “the best of the best in the entire Bahamas.”
Maynard’s words of inspiration rang through the Kendal G.L.?Isaacs national Gymnasium during the awards presentation for the New Providence based schools, which competed in the annual tournament held in December, 2010. Family Islands schools and athletes that won awards were the first to receive their hardware when Minister Maynard, Director of Sports Timothy Munnings and ministry official Michael ‘Scooter&rsqu ...
"I'm vex at people who complain about traffic, completely failing to see the irony. They're the reason traffic exists, because they're the ones driving the cars. One would think that a tiny, flyspeck island such as New Providence would welcome two wheeled transportation such as bicycles, scooters and motorcycles with open arms, but Bahamians are so ignorant that we stick to the old tradition of 'only 'Hyshins' is ride bicycle!' And we all know how Bahamians view 'Hyshins'."
- Concerned citizen
"I vex an' sad that all dem stores on Bay Street get burn down and happy dat at least one left mostly saved intact is da well known 'Bat' ...