CONFUSION AND MADNESS OF THE ROADS
A letter-writer in one of the daily newspapers described the situation with traffic entering the city from its southern extremity as confusion. If the traffic situation there can be so described then the traffic situation during peak hours at the northern extremity can be described as madness.
If you are coming into the city from East Bank Demerara where the Ministry of Housing has seen it fit to locate a number of new housing schemes then there are only a few main roads that can be used to get you to the heart of the city. You have to either traverse through Lombard Street or take a longer journey through the cemetery.
Other than that, you have to exit East Bank Demerara through a number of minor streets which will be no less congested than some of the main roads where confusion reigns during peak hours.
If you are coming from the East Coast, then the options are just as limited. You have to use either Sheriff Street, Vlissengen Road, Camp Street or High Street.
It really makes no difference which one you take, you are bound to get entangled in a long slow-winding traffic jam during peak morning hours.
The traffic situation will not get better. Because of the tremendous wealth that is being generated within the economy, within the next ten years every family is going to own at least one motor car. This could mean as many as 200,000 motor vehicles on the roads each day, and Guyana’s roads, especially the approaches to the city, simply cannot take off that volume of traffic.
Public transportation is not capable of taking off the present volume of traffic. And this situation will get worse because the private transportation operators are reading the signals. They know that within ten years, the demand for minibuses will decline and therefore not many of them are investing in new buses.
The number of hire cars on the roads has also peaked. Every other car plying the roadway these days is a special hire, and they are making money because people have the money to pay and are paying for this mode of transportation.
So bad is the traffic situation in the country that at major junctions, traffic ranks are forced to override the traffic lights and direct traffic themselves. And still to move just a few blocks on a main road can take close to fifteen minutes. This is how bad the situation has become as more and more vehicles are thrown onto the narrow transport system.
The problems do not end there. The government constructed major housing schemes on the East Coast, East Bank and on the West Coast of Demerara leading to large numbers of persons residing in these schemes. In constructing these schemes, however, the government seems to have forgotten to cater for the transportation needs of people who were allotted lots.
As such, each day thousands of persons are left stranded way into the afternoon since the buses which have to compete with private and hire cars in using the public roads simply cannot get to and from these schemes in time to pick up everyone before nightfall.
It is heartening that the government has recognized that there is now a serious traffic problem. But this problem cannot be solved if the Central Housing and Planning Authority continues to authorize the expansion of businesses in the city. This expansion means that more and more persons are working in the city and therefore more and more persons have to travel to the city.
The situation is also not going to get better by widening the roads. The roads were widened a few years ago but the growth of traffic has been too much.
What is needed is zoning. What is needed is the opening of new commercial and business areas outside of Georgetown. What are needed are systems to improve the flow of traffic. What is needed is better urban planning so that schools and businesses are not congested in a small area.
What is needed mostly, though, is for a few large buses to be deployed to move passengers in and out of the housing schemes. If there can be four sixty seat buses deployed to each scheme during peak hours, it will considerably ease the amount of traffic and the hassles faced by passengers. If school buses can be introduced it will make a tremendous difference.
There is need for a national consultation to discuss these ideas. And the faster this takes place, the better the traffic will move during peak hours.