By Leonard Gildarie
Growing up, like what the majority in the 80s suffered, things were tough.
You cared what you had and there was little waste.
The few families that were fortunate to receive barrels from families were fortunate indeed. We never had that.
I wrote so many times of attending Queen’s College and walking from the school to the park every day, because you had no money to catch the short-drop. My little brother and I depended on help. I am not ashamed of saying that we benefited from hand-me-downs too. We were thankful.
Yes, it was that tough. Many would remember the days when Guyoil ran out of fuel and people were walking from Stabroek to Grove along the East Bank public road. The people walking on the roadways would have made front page. There were times when the well broke down for three weeks. You had to fetch the water from the well located half of a mile away.
Today, I see waste that is unbelievable. Take a visit to Stabroek, Bourda and other markets and you will cry at the food that is thrown away – food that people in other countries would die for.
In the same vein, I see today the madness on the roadways. There is a waste of police resources, deaths, and damage to public and private property. If the situation does not warrant a full-scale inquiry on a national scale, then nothing else does.
Every single day, it is something. As I write, another accident occurred at Leonora in the wee hours of the morning. For the second time in two weeks, Republic Bank has lost another staffer to a road accident.
The bank, as a good corporate citizen, should start a movement for safer roads, as it is intensely promoting its auto loans campaign.
But back to the madness.
As I write, it is being reported, unconfirmed by police, that in 14 days, 14 persons died.
Yes, let that sink in. Fourteen of our people died from unnatural causes.
Let us break it down. Kosmos’s owner, Dillon DeRamos, and Senior Superintendent, Brian Eastman, were killed this past week after the SUV driven by the businessman slammed into the concrete wall at an auto sales yard not far from MovieTowne.
Before that, another Republic Bank staffer slammed into an East Coast bridge along the Railway Embankment. Then a car ploughed into a family at Bushlot, sending several into the hospital and leaving one of their own – a seven-year-old – dead.
That was heartbreaking. I refused to read the story. I think of my little son who turned 13 a few days ago.
On Friday, we learnt that a midwife is in critical condition after being struck on the Essequibo coast.
There was a video which went viral of a minibus conductor dancing while holding the door open and the vehicle was moving. The passengers cheered him on.
What was even more madness was the driver of the same bus who hung his legs through the door. That was so cool, the passengers thought.
Every single day, we see undertaking, overtaking, and all manner of madness in seemingly impossible situations.
I dare the police to stand on the Diamond access road in the mornings and see the taxis and minibuses overtaking the line to fit in somewhere. If you know the access road, then you would know the dangers.
I will anger a few grieving family members in what I say now.
I can’t hold my liquor. I don’t really drink. If I do, I don’t drive. There are a few reasons why I don’t drink and drive. I can’t afford to fix my car if it reaches an accident. I also don’t like the idea of being in jail. I find a driver on the rare occasion that I do take a drink.
Speeding is a major cause of accidents on the road. Why is it we find it necessary to speed and take those unnecessary chances?
I was at the post-Cabinet press conference on Thursday. I posed a question to Joseph Harmon, Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency.
Would the government be inclined to order a national inquiry into the madness on the roads, with a view of recommendations being made to reduce the incidents?
Mr. Harmon indicated that by law, every unnatural death is supposed to be followed by an inquest to determine the circumstances. A magistrate is empowered to do this.
Mr Harmon acknowledged that the loss of lives on the road is something Guyana can ill-afford.
The conversation has to start now. It is a measure of our lawlessness that we could tolerate and take par for the course what we tolerate as citizens from our drivers.
A few drivers, including those for minibuses and taxis, are holding our country to ransom.
It is easy to speed in the nights when the roads are clear and a few drinks are in the head.
We can’t afford to lose our people that way.
Our politicians and other leaders, and the police, have to address this matter without hesitation.
A few roadblocks will not help.
When one applies for a firearm licence, invariably you are asked to undergo an evaluation to ensure you have the capacity. I was asked to.
Death by guns is less than what is happening on the roads. Is it time we ask applicants to undergo the same evaluation? A car with a driver not experienced or lacking the capacity to coherently think of consequences is worse than a gun in the hand.
We can recall too well the unfortunate accident involving a police car at Friendship recently, where five persons died – one accident that affected the lives of so many families and loved ones.
The video is surreal. The two cars collided and in a moment of time, death was frozen.
If the situation of 14 deaths – if the figures are confirmed – is not a call for action, then nothing else is. I say this for the thousands of commuters who have no voices.
I heard the word “sheeple” (docile, easily led people) last week. I can ponder on the truth.
Surely, we deserve better as a people.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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