Jan 20, 2014 Editorial
Kaieteur News has again alerted the nation to an issue that should have occupied the attention of some local regulatory watchdog in the interest of public safety. For too long, appropriate and necessary measures to address the wellbeing of residents within these borders have been left to chance revelations coming out of the media.
The latest item surrounds the possibility that radioactive vehicles out of Japan may be already in the country. To his credit, the Minister of Health did not attempt to bluff on such a serious matter and promised to have an investigation done.
Since the majority of vehicles entering Guyana are categorized as used or reconditioned, prospective owners need to be informed on what guarantees they have for their personal safety and that of their families. One alarming aspect in the entire scenario is that those suppliers and middlemen have so far shown no initiative in bringing to public notice the dangers inherent when purchasing vehicles originating in Japan.
According to reports, contaminated vehicles and spare parts were banned from entering Russia, while Jamaica turned back a shipment consigned to Guyana. Just for one moment, imagine if that batch had been allowed to come here where no one was any wiser, what the health and associated risks would have been.
Think of a minibus slipping through any monitoring net and travelers being exposed over time. Think of the impact the resultant sickness and loss of life could have on a clueless underdeveloped country with a small population such as ours. Mr. Bransford as an auto dealer deserves our collective gratitude for his forthright stand on the issue.
The Guyana government has an obligation to address this matter frontally, and mandate the relevant regulatory bodies to up their monitoring capabilities and report accordingly on the radiation levels of vehicles out of post 2011 Japan. It is perhaps noteworthy that a few African countries including Tanzania and Kenya have banned the importation of vehicles from Japan.
Are the Guyanese authorities willing to similarly commit in light of our extant circumstances? Parts replacement will obviously be affected, since vehicle owners will be hard pressed to afford new parts. The reality is that economic considerations will prevail, particularly if taken in conjunction with political fealty. What is all the more worrying is that with all of the charges of corruption, there really is no guarantee that buyers will get a radiation-free vehicle.
Another sore point which requires serious thought is the continued importation of used tyres. In all the lament about road traffic accidents, there is a deafening silence about the state of vehicles’ tyres, which if worn or damaged, can seriously affect a vehicle’s safety and handling. Any caring administration should be looking at ways to ease the prohibitive import tax on these important items.
How can we expect a Police Certifying Officer to conduct a practical test when the tread depth and general tyre condition are unsafe for the roads? The practice of plugging used tyres also affects the longevity of tyres since it goes without saying that new tyres will last much longer even on our roads. There should be advisories which inform on the legal minimum features for tyres on the roadways and stringent enforcement by the police.
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