Traffic craziness, carelessness, and confusion continue on the carriageways, leading to constant corruption, chaos and carnage as more lives are wasted and lost, pedestrians and passengers are dismembered and injured and survivors and families remain hurt, humiliated and hapless.
Despite the cries, pleas and advice from the President, the Police, and all stakeholders throughout Guyana, recklessness is a daily feature that can be observed by the minute on the roads and streets by unconcerned users, be it drivers, riders, bicyclists, pedestrians, workers and maintenance crew. No wonder there has been a 71 per cent increase in road fatalities resulting in 151 deaths from 129 recorded accidents, as revealed by the Traffic Chief last week.
The grave situation is a result of many studies, monitored and noted reasons, causes, explanations, analyses, and opinions, discussed and written already, including a failed system and an undisciplined society. Recommendations for corrections and supplements to the rules and regulations, traffic laws, increased penalties, and education, better and more roads to enhance improvement and prevent accidents, have all been tried and tested but are yet to curb or control the madness that is exercised and executed by several users and abusers, be it men, women and children, both male and female, experienced and novice.
The brandished, befuddled, and bewildered behaviour beats the brain as injured parties bemoan the tragic incident that occurred last week when a two-week-old married cop was killed by a speeding driver, allegedly intoxicated and who ignored the stop light to slam into the officer and her colleague who were manning a roadblock outside the BV Police Station.
Perhaps this is the epitome of a sad incident, demonstrating the callous, cruel and calamitous carelessness of a catastrophic driver. This demonic drama demonstrates the demand for another penalty review. Any drunk driver convicted of causing an accident resulting in the death of anyone should be fined heavily, sentenced to nothing less than ten years’ imprisonment, and should be banned for life from driving or riding any motorised vehicle. Tough times call for tough measures.
Last holiday Monday, 47 bicyclists were observed during the evening hours between 6:15 and 6:45 in Tuschen New Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo, at a popular junction on the main road. 45 did not display any headlights or reflectors while only one had a red reflector attached to the back wheel and another rider pitched his phone light as a warning or guidance. There were numerous motorbikes, all of the riders speeding and wearing no helmets, two of them without any headlights on.
Five e-bikes travelled the route without any headlights on, one of the riders was 12 or 13 years of age. Many drivers were speeding on this busy road and three of them were driving without any lights on. 6 cars plied the route with loud, lawless, and lewd music blaring as if they were playing at an open concert. Many cars and minibuses stopped at the Chinese supermarket.
The drivers and other occupants purchased beers and consumed the same on the premises while competing to play their different music at high volume, much to the annoyance of the aggrieved residents in the area. Why do shop owners tolerate this nuisance? A Police outpost is located within hearing and seeing distance! Imagine what is happening in the rest of the country!
This is not an exaggerated situation but a norm in many areas. The Police, public and private domain are well aware, acquainted, and acknowledge this typical scenario. Many drivers and riders obey the traffic law and act within the parameters of rules and regulations while operating with patience and diligence to adhere to the famous five Cs: care, caution, consideration, common sense, and courtesy.
They should be commended. Many Police officers maintain the dignity of their uniforms to uphold honour by practicing and applying the law. They should be recognised and awarded appropriately. Those road users who flaunt the law should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, they don’t care and are not remorseful over a guilty conscience. They are simply mean and will remain a menace. Those officers who “collect” instead of caution and correct others or fail to comply with the law, are a disgrace and detriment to the Force and should be dismissed.
As adumbrated before and is prevalent in many countries, unmarked cars should be used to patrol our roadways to catch those who break the law on the roadway. The placement of more CCTVs and cameras is needed for surveillance on all the roads, not only a few. Plainclothes officers should be riding the minibuses to uphold the law by ensuring drivers are in strict compliance. Traffic lights are needed also in rural areas. Radar guns should be a daily usage by the Police. Police should not hesitate to issue traffic tickets, including for over-loading.
Conductors on minibuses believe that they are DJs on a dance floor. Many can be seen drinking beers while on duty and in the buses. Overcharging is rampant. Many buses refuse short drop passengers unless you pay a long drop premium. Also, discrimination is practiced by choosing selected passengers. Is there a minibus association?
The Ministry for Commerce and Business may want to intervene along with others, including the Consumer Affairs Association, to protect and provide for passengers who are at the mercy of bus drivers. The safety and security of this nation and its people is everybody’s business.