The Guyana National Road Safety Council (GNRSC) in collaboration with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday launched National Road Safety Month under the theme “The time is now! Don’t drink and drive, Stay attentive drive defensive.”
Despite the numerous calls and educational activities to inform road users to adhere to the rules of the road, this year’s road fatalities are very alarming, with102 fatal accidents and 110 deaths compared to 79 fatal accidents and 85 deaths in 2013.
During an address at the event which was held opposite Parliament Building, Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, said that road safety must be looked at in a more holistic way and must see the involvement of the force, stakeholders, the religious community, schools and every other citizen.
Guyana’s transportation sector is vastly developing, and Minister Rohee stated that as this is being done, road accidents are equally challenging and are becoming increasingly alarming.
“ It’s not only a question of the transport sector and the roads as an infrastructural aspect to facilitate transport, it’s the environmental, road safety and a whole host of other issues come together to create these challenges, and that is why it’s important to look at these issues holistically,” Minister Rohee explained. This, he said must be seen as a reflection of the rapid development that is occurring in Guyana.
Minister Rohee further noted that the degree of lawlessness, recklessness and carelessness that has been occurring not only in the city, but across the region must be dealt with, and education and enforcement must go hand-in-hand in this regard.
Notwithstanding all the efforts by the GPF and the GNRSC, there is still a huge number of persons breaching the road laws and the force will be increasing the amount of ticketed offences and will be implementing measures to ensure persons pay their tickets. He said that the Ministry will also be dealing with the music carts who are becoming a nuisance.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds called for a more holistic approach by the relevant agencies in order to lower the accident rate. He said that it is something that everyone needs to worry about and urged road users to adhere to the rules of the road and be more courteous to fellow road users, especially the pedestrians.
Prime Minister Hinds also charged the Police Force to implement stricter penalties, and also to be more equipped to deal with drinking and driving.
He lauded the Public Works Ministry for reinforcing the laws as it related to the speed boats, which has reduced river transport deaths.
Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn said that this year’s failure with respect to road deaths and accidents must be accepted. “If you look at the statistics, I would say that we will have at least 22 more persons dying by the end of December….that is what it says, and if I factor into that calculus the holiday season, which is the drinking season then it would probably be more and at the end of all of this we will be touching 130 to 140 deaths by the end of 2014.”
Most of these fatalities involve young men between ages 18-35, and Minister Benn said that Guyanese need to adapt the culture of safety on the roadways because the country needs its young population for continued development.
Minister Benn noted that Government has been investing significantly in road infrastructure, especially the four-lane East Bank and East Coast Demerara expansion projects and noted that road users continue to block the roadways. He urged the relevant agencies to implement measures to tackle this issue. (GINA)
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