– says police campaigns ‘not working’
“Motor vehicles whizz past policemen and police stations at top speeds without fear by the drivers that they will ever be stopped. And let’s face it; they know that if they are, all it will cost them is a ‘malta….”
Former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran has joined those calling for stricter enforcement of traffic laws, in the wake of the recent spate of horrendous road accidents.
The recent carnage prompted the Force to enact ‘Operation Safeway’, its most recent campaign to reduce the carnage on the country’s roadways.
As part of the operation, traffic ranks can be seen on the road conducting rigid exercises throughout the country, with the main areas of focus being in Georgetown, East Bank Demerara (EBD) and East Coast Demerara (ECD).
However Ramkarran, in one of his most recent blogs, noted that “none of the (programmes) will work unless the Police Force strengthens its traffic enforcement capacity.
“To be frank, that capacity has long disappeared. It has been defeated by the culture of kleptocracy (rule by thieves) which has enveloped Guyana over the years, to such an extent that little can be done or achieved without paying obeisance to the culture, which flourishes with or without hindrance.”
Ramkarran underlined what he said are the main problems that need to be tackled in reducing road accidents and fatalities.
He continued that “exhortations on billboards and the use of a few speed guns by the police force are about all that is being done.
“They are clearly not working. Motor vehicles whizz past policemen and police stations at top speeds without fear by the drivers that they will ever be stopped. And let’s face it, they know that if they are, all it will cost them is a ‘malta.”
Ramkarran went on to highlight, the issue is drinking and driving.
“It is not known if the authorities have ever considered restricting the number of liquor licences being granted and strengthening the requirements. There is no legal requirement for notices warning against drinking and driving to be placed in bars or liquor restaurants. If cigarette packets require such notices, why not places which sell liquor?”
Finally, he said penalties for all traffic offences need to be upgraded and licences need to be suspended or revoked.
Ramkarran recommended the establishment of a Non Governmental Organisation, (NGO) properly resourced and working closely but independently with the authorities, to tackle this problem.
“But unless the Government is prepared to fund programmes and improvements, nothing will happen, “he stressed.
Last May, the Guyana Police Force recorded a 32 percent increase in road fatalities. According to Acting Traffic Chief, Boodnarine Persaud, there were 54 road fatalities from 50 accidents recorded from January to May 19, last, in comparison to 41 fatalities from 32 accidents for the same period in 2015.
Pedestrians are cited as the main road users affected with 16 such persons having lost their lives.
In addition, 12 motorcyclists, four pillion riders, seven pedal cyclists, nine drivers and six persons traveling in buses and lorries also lost their lives. For this year already, nine children have been killed in road accidents.
The victims include three-year-old Ashton Sears, 10 year old Ishmael Raghubir, five-month-old baby Randy Williams, 10-year-old Davin Sealey 11-year-old Hema Singh and four-year-old Ambeka Trotman.
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