AS we push into 2018, one government entity appears to have found the right formula to get things done.
The Honiara City Council began at the beginning of the year with the announcement that tinted glasses would be removed from public transport vehicles, essentially taxis and buses from April 1.
Tinted glasses are still here with us. It is hoped that the Council moves to implement this. The Council should focus more on enforcements rather than announcements. It is difficult but not impossible.
For reasons of health, the Council also started on a major clean-up of restaurants and takeaway outlets – a move long overdue. Given the level of dust on our roads, the number of people suffering largely imported diseases, the urgency to act on food outlets is all the more pressing.
This week the Council moves a notch higher on a matter which should have been done a long time ago, but no one had the courage to do so.
It moves to ban foreign language labelling on items sold in shops in Honiara. It’s a commendable move indeed. However, it is not entirely clear whether the move would achieve anything, if at all. Foreign language labelling is merely a symptom of a major problem.
Consider the ability of Chinese companies to quickly replace these labels with those written in English. These labels could be replicated in no time. It would nullify the objective of such an exercise.
Removing the foreign language label is merely touching the surface of a much bigger problem. We need to begin training our own people to read one of the two Chinese languages.
Still, it is commendable that the Honiara City Council has begun putting its front foot forward. It’s no good putting up billboards along the highway announcing this and that without implementing the intention.
A clear example is the large billboard outside the National Referral Hospital, which says smoking is not allowed in buses, taxis and so on. The intention is brilliant, implementation is zero.
Who’s responsible for this?
There’s one other area that the Council should address immediately – Illegal Parking. Penalising illegal parking brings in much-needed dough into Council coffers. It also instils order on our roads as well as safety for all road users.
Go to the main market any day and you will see what I am talking about here. It is chaos at any time on any day. It is important that City Council police are properly trained to issue on the spot fines on drivers who illegally park their vehicles.
Parking lots for large vehicles bringing in local produce to the market should be clearly marked. Anyone parking outside these areas should be penalised for traffic infringements.
Furthermore, traffic police of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) should do spot checks on drivers to see whether or not they have a valid driver’s licence. Many don’t.
Such drivers should be kept off the road for the sake of other road users. Allowing the status quo to go on unhindered only amplifies the problem we are already witnessing on our roads. The worse is yet to come unless moves are taken to address major traffic problems on our roads.
Buses creating extra lane on pedestrian footpaths should also be punished as such practice endangers the lives of pedestrians and other road users. If national government entities are too slack to address the problem on our traffic, maybe the Honiara City Council should be entrusted with such task?
At least they get things moving, even if in a small way.
Congratulations are in order to the Lord Mayor and his Team.