A National Task Force for Traffic is needed
The Government and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) need to set up a national task force to scrutinise the nation’s deplorable traffic situation and work unremittingly to put an end to it, with full transparency and accountability to the public.
This has become necessary because the police have apparently lost control of the traffic situation, and there is very little evidence of any definite moves to correct this. Admittedly there are dozens of traffic ranks manning the streets, but on any given day anyone can see countless road users flagrantly disregarding the traffic laws of Guyana and getting away with it. This is especially evident on the streets in and around the capital city Georgetown, which are congested for long periods during the peak business hours. The occurrence of traffic accidents in Guyana is unacceptably high for a nation this size, and citizens are paying an astronomical price for this. There have been far too many lives lost, too many persons injured and disabled, too much time lost from jobs, as well as far too much damage to vehicles and property. Unfortunately, this cost — paid in untold human misery and incalculable material losses — continues rising with no end in sight. We cannot allow this to continue. Two days ago there was a fatal accident at Camp and Lamaha Streets, several hundred metres from the Force’s Eve Leary headquarters, and one at Coverden.
Surely there is absolutely no good reason why certain painfully obvious problem areas remain unresolved for months or years, while citizens continue to risk their lives, limbs and property on the streets. There are many glaring examples, but examining only one is all that is needed to put the situation in proper perspective. Consider the bizarre case of the continually malfunctioning Georgetown traffic lights. This problem has been exposed and discussed in public repeatedly, but with little effect. The city is still mainly without working traffic lights in key areas and the full reason is deeply buried in the quagmire of official inertia.
The suggestion that there should be a national task force to look into these and other problems should not be misconstrued as police bashing. From all outward appearances the police force is trying to do the best they can under very trying circumstances. The problems facing the police are well-known and need not be explored in depth here. However it is clear that, in the area of traffic control as in many other aspects of police operations, the GPF, though having a visible presence, seems woefully undermanned and out of their depth.
Therefore it seems plausible that the police should get temporary help in the area of traffic control from a specially created national task force that should be broad-based and multi-faceted, with a distinct mandate and full public accountability. Such a task force should get special funding and should comprise a small eminently qualified team of experts. They should be required to set and publicise their targets as well as the time frames in which they expect to achieve those goals. They should also be required to report to the public at reasonable periods, so that citizens would be fully informed of their achievements and setbacks every step of the way.
The main intent of suggesting the creation of such a task force is quite straightforward. The responsibilities and expectations of the task force must be clearly defined from the outset. This definition should include the identification of specific problems for its members to work on, but they should get the flexibility to chop and change when they need to adapt to shifting circumstances.
This should give the public an opportunity to learn the status of work done to resolve specific traffic problems at definite intervals, say once a month. In that way, the public would not be left waiting and hoping indefinitely for signs of progress. Instead, there would be a national body to hold accountable after pre-determined periods, which would directly address the public’s suggestions and concerns in an open and timely manner.
Think about the benefits of having a national body that is compelled to answer probing questions about the traffic situation at specific intervals.