Jan 24, 2020 Editorial Comments Off on Taking back control of one’s safety; of life itself
Some members of the public are taking matters into their own hands, with their voices raised either to protest or to caution. Given that it is their own welfare involved, it is way past the time when this should have happened, and happened stridently and consistently. It is either that or hospital time, or wake-house time, followed by funeral and burial time, none of which is ever a good time.
After a flurry of gruesome accidents, with vehicles and passengers and death sprawled all over local roadways, the report is passengers in minibuses are stepping up and speaking out to manage better their own sanity and safety (KN January 13).
This paper is glad that, after the longest while, the first indications of good sense have come to the fore. This cannot be off and on, nor whimsical, as too much is at risk, too many lives have been lost, and too many who miraculously survived those accidents have related lifelong traumas and expenses with which to deal, which, most times, there is difficulty managing.
For too long, the minibus drivers and conductors have been given a free hand and allowed to intimidate the public, disrespect paying, travelling commuters, and injure or send more than a few of them to their graves. Now a start has been made, and it is going to be an uphill battle, because there are those more youthful folks and distinctively older, but no less immature, persons, who are proud to be a part of the rollicking, runaway road culture.
In fact, as has been told and retold, there are those travelers, who encourage drivers to go faster and push through the danger zone. It is considered part of having fun and enjoying a good time. That is, until somebody becomes the latest victim.
Only then, when passengers are hauled out from the wreckages and in great pain, is heard the lament of too loud music, too much smoking (or, on occasion, drinking), too much speeding, and too much of the reckless and unheeding on the part of bus operators.
It would appear, and this paper is guarded about this, that a handful of citizens have come to the conclusion that if they do not speak up, then it is highly likely that they could be going down, as in six feet under, or to the Intensive Care Unit of any one of the local hospitals. Neither one of the end results of silence and disinterest, brings any soothing or satisfying of agitated spirits.
It boggles the mind that, under normal, everyday circumstances, citizens traveling in minibuses would react differently to other menacing or life-threatening situations, without delay, for fear of the potential outcomes. They would be quick to reach out to the Guyana Police Force for assistance and protection, if a neighbour turns up the music too loud, or gets out of hand, or represents the fearful and endangering. The same applies for the women who, more and more, are coming out of their homes to report issues of domestic abuse and violence. And, last, there are those family members, who refuse to take anymore of the unacceptable, and determine that their best chance of safety and some peace of mind is to turn in some drug-crazed or liquor-addled family member.
It may be an out of control offspring or imperiling husband. But the action taken is to protect self. Thus, it is wondered why passengers in minibuses sit quietly and docilely, like sheep being led to the abattoir, while their pilots engage in one traffic violation after another, to the great discomfort and, sometimes, death of their paying charges. It just does not make sense, when so many have fallen, and so many still decide it is not their business or that silence and stoic unresponsiveness are the better part of valour, and of getting to wherever is the destination.
Now that some concerned citizens have stepped forward, Traffic Chief Linden Isles is expected to make good on his words from before that promised a new day – a safer one – for Guyanese travelers in general, and minibus users in particular. It is time that the tighter oversight regime mentioned be enforced, starting with those drivers.
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