Opinion: Bad parking habits

POSTED: 01/19/12 1:46 PM

We read somewhere that towing services spent four and a half (4.5) hours on Tuesday to retrieve four (4) car wrecks from some bushes in Dutch Quarter.

We marveled at these figures and the efficiency of it all. But then, maybe it was a typo, though we think it’s safe to assume that the tow truckers did not retrieve 40 cars.

All this got us thinking about tow trucks and the work they do, and by doing so we realized pretty quickly that this bizarre industry warrants closer scrutiny.

When these tow trucks are called to a scene to tow a car that is parked in a place where this is not allowed, they usually work under supervision from the police. This is a rather remarkable – not to use any other words – public/private partnership.

The police resources devoted to these activities are paid by all of us – at least by the 35 percent that is paying taxes. But the proceeds from towing go to the towing company – we believe at a pace of 75 guilders per car.

So while the police are directing the work, the towing company collects the reward. We’re not against some company making a buck or two, but we are unable to stop wondering why this system is in place while there is a much more logical solution available that would benefit the state.

We understand that once upon a time St. Maarten used wheel clamps to call motorists with bad parking habits to order.

The question is now why this system was abolished. Usually when the answer to such a question is not immediately clear, or if it remains elusive, it has to do with money.

We don’t know how it works, but it seems that the state is holding the short end of the straw. Before we call for a return to the wheel clamp, we’d like to address the issue of parking. Conditions in Philipsburg are not exactly car-friendly, especially not for those motorists who are too lazy to park behind the new government administration building and walk into town. What surprises us is that nobody ever came up with a plan to build a multi-level parking garage. Those facilities are a goldmine for whoever owns them. Nobody ever went broke on owning a parking garage, but we don’t have them – at least not yet.

So we encourage the harbor to use some of its money to accommodate the community. It could even consider a partnership with the airport and the utilities company to put such a project together.

Once we have sufficient parking available it becomes just to tackle motorists who park wherever they like. We see cars parked on Front Street all the time, and drivers keep doing this because they hardly ever face consequences.

That’ll change when they return to their vehicle and find one of those nice yellow wheel clamps on one of their wheels. We suggest that the government establishes an office for handling wheel clamped motorists far away enough from the center to make the journey on foot or by public transport sufficiently inconvenient. At this office motorists will have to pay their fine, before a service team goes to their car to remove the wheel clamp.

Trust us on this one: this system will make bad parking habits disappear overnight.

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