May 03, 2021 Letters
I write with respect to the increase of begging that has gained momentum in Georgetown. Unfortunately on the 29th April, 2021, a pensioner who was in his eighties was killed when he fell into the path of a moving truck and trailer. The accident happened at the Avenue of the Republic and close to Regent Street. I had seen this particular pensioner a few years ago and at the first time that I saw him, I was saddened that a person at his age had to resort to begging. I gave him a donation then and subsequently saw him regularly as the route was one that I took to go to Court.
Over the years, this pensioner continued begging at the junction of the Avenue of the Republic and Regent Street. He would choose which section to solicit either from the traffic going north along the Avenue of the Republic or from the traffic going south. He met his death whilst begging from the traffic that was going south.
However, this accident was only a matter of time for it to happen as he would beg not at the corner of the road but get in between the lanes and when the light turned green, he would make his way to the side of the road. He was fit and this looked to me as a job as he was there begging for hours. What daily amount that he had to achieve, I cannot say but rain or shine, one would see him at this junction.
What is of concern is that this elderly man had to beg almost every day except Sundays. Did the Ministry of Social Services or any other entity ever checked to see what help could be given to him? Did he have any family? Was anyone assisting him? Did he have somewhere to sleep? Or was he begging as a business? I saw an article in Kaiteur News of the 1st May, 2021 by Peeping Tom and which article was entitled “Begging is big business!” and this article throws light on the thorny issue of begging.
As stated earlier, begging has proliferated in Georgetown and to an extent elsewhere. Begging is done by elderly persons, persons who appear sick and handicapped, young persons who seem healthy and can work, persons of some mental incapacity, persons who use babies and their children and by children themselves. I will not deal now with the social impact and economic conditions for begging but I wish to deal how unsafe and unfair it is when we allow begging in the streets.
The pensioner who unfortunately died had placed himself in harm’s way on the day he was killed. I had personally observed him placing himself in similar danger on several occasions. The result of his own negligence and lack of care has resulted in the driver of the lorry being arrested, being held in police custody which is most unpleasant, demeaning, humiliating and to cap it all for the driver and his family to incur the expense of having to secure legal services and the other expenses to ensure that the driver whilst he is in custody is comfortable and get meals. We all know that the police lockups do not have mattresses for prisoners to sleep on their concrete floors, that the cells are smelly and not properly ventilated. It is something that any citizen who had never had any brush with the law will find most gross and never would wish to experience again.
The sad part of this incident is from the reports that have been published is that that driver was not at fault at all. No speeding, no alcohol in his system, no defective brakes or of the vehicle. So why was he kept in custody as has been reported? It is my considered view that more accidents as this will happen as persons who beg and who sell water and other beverages weave in and out of the lanes and traffic to ply their trade. This must stop as it puts innocent motorists and users of the road in the predicament where they may be incarcerated innocently for the inconsiderate and reckless acts of the persons who beg and sell on the roads.
What is happening has been going on for some time now and in the plain sight of the police and the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs. What has the present Traffic Chief and previous Traffic Chiefs and Ministers done to correct this situation? Nothing! Absolutely nothing and it is my considered opinion that it is the Traffic Chief who should be in custody for allowing this nonsense to continue and who in failing to properly and wisely ensure adherence to safety in the use of the roads, caused the death of this pensioner.
K.A. Juman-Yassin S.C, A.A.
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