Latest update March 20th, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 06, 2023 News
…“Licensed to kill”
Kaieteur News – Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Paul Slowe in a letter penned to the Stabroek News on Sunday posited that corrupt practices in the issuance of driver’s licences is one of the main causes behind the recent surge of fatal road accidents.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on February 21 last via a press release expressed concern over the “growing number” of road fatalities that occurred so far in 2023.
According to the Ministry, 16 persons were killed in road accidents from January 1 to February 18, 2023, a 100 percent increase when compared to same period last year.
The ministry attributed the increase to reckless driving, speeding, driving under influence and total disregard for the Five ‘Cs’ and noted too that stringent law enforcement will be needed to ensure drivers follow the road rules.
However, the retired commissioner believes that the law enforcement authorities and the ministry might be missing the point.
In his letter he wrote, “It is clear from the press release that the Ministry of Home Affairs is clueless when it comes to the real reasons for the madness on the roads and the measures that should be implemented to address the carnage.”
According to Slowe, the “real problem” is the corrupt system that exits when it comes to the issuance of drivers’ licences.
“I will posit that accidents are the end results of a corrupt system, Slowe wrote while adding, “Corruptly providing a drivers’ licence to unqualified persons is akin to providing those persons with a licence to kill”.
To back up his view that there is wide spread-corruption in the country’s driver learning programme for the issuance of driver’s licence, Slowe provided some stats from a letter published Stabroek News back in 2022.
The letter was reportedly penned by the Head of the Force’s Audit and Inspection Unit, Julius Wright and it revealed that some 397 persons did not write the driver’s exam but received pass marks. Another 79 did not register for the exam but still received pass marks while 21 received pass marks before even writing the exams.
Slowe also quoted a few news articles where police ranks and Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) employees were arrested and charged for being involved in driver’s licence fraud.
He noted that the evidence suggests that the system is corrupt and “needs compelling attention”.
Apart from the evidence put forward by the retired cop, it should be noted that GRA earlier this year issued a stern warning against the falsification of documents especially to obtain a driver’s licence.
In a press statement, the Authority had said that “persons guilty of such unlawful actions are liable on summary conviction to fines and imprisonment of up to as much as six months, depending on the nature and severity of the offence.”
The Authority’s warning came just a few days after one of its employees was arrested for selling a bogus driver’s examination pass paper – a document needed to apply for a driver’s licence at GRA – to the labourer from Bush Lot, Essequibo Coast, Region Two.
Kaieteur News had confirmed that the GRA staff has admitted to selling the document to the Essequibo resident for $50,000. He claimed that he had gotten the fake document from another individual but according to police, he has been withholding the identity of that person.
With GRA’s recent warning, it seems as though Slowe might be hitting the hammer on the right nail when it comes to fraudulently issuing licence to unqualified drivers.
It is the retired cop’s view that these unqualified drivers might be playing a major role in the sharp rise in the number of road fatalities that has been taking place in the country.
In order to address the situation, Slowe suggested, “the current traffic situation in Guyana needs a comprehensive review of the entire process, including the process to acquire a driver’s licence, certification of motor vehicles, disqualification of drivers, suspension of drivers’ licences, traffic education and enforcement”.
“It is time for the government of Guyana to establish a Department of Transportation to deal with the acquisition of drivers’ licences, guidelines for operating driving schools and the qualification required for becoming a driving instructor”, he said.
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