Kaieteur News – The government’s desire to reduce damage to public property as a result of road accidents deserves our support and commendation. However, road accidents usually result in more damage to private third party property than to the destruction of public property and any legislation that the government intends to pass to deal with the latter problem, should equally address the more pervasive issue of damage to private property.
This column has long pointed to the inadequacy of the insurance coverage of many road users. The limits of liability on most of these insurance policies are of such that they do not adequately compensate a victim who has suffered material losses or personal injury as a consequence of a road accident.
The law mandates that all motor vehicles must have a policy of insurance. However, the minimum limits of liability have become unrealistic and this has resulted in many a case in which someone suffers losses as a result of the actions of an insured vehicle, but when the time comes for compensation, the victim finds that the insurance coverage is grossly inadequate and is thus forced to seek compensation from the person responsible for the accident, a recourse that is not always fruitful and which may involve lengthy court proceedings.
It is thus necessary that the laws be amended to ensure that the minimum limits of liability are raised so as to safeguard the victims of property damage – be this public or private – and personal injury, resulting from road accidents. No private vehicle should be allowed to use the roadways in Guyana unless that vehicle has coverage that would secure at the minimum third party property damage claims of two million dollars per accident and personal injury of five million per accident. No public transportation vehicle should be allowed on our roadways unless there is in force a policy of insurance that allows for three million in property damage and ten million in personal injury claims.
It is hoped now that the State itself has become conscious of the need to reduce the damage to public property that it would seek to move more expeditiously towards amending the mandatory limits of liability for those who use our roadways.
Guyanese motorists will equally need to become more conscious about the dangers of having only nominal insurance ceilings. They stand to lose a great deal because should they be involved in an accident they would hardly be able to repair their own vehicles much less to compensate the persons they may have wronged.
The government also proposes to examine the physical layout of some intersections to see how modifications can assist. This is to be commended, because many intersections are extremely dangerous and the same applies to most of our public roadways. It would have been so much easier if all of our public roadways did not have residential businesses running alongside them, as is the case with the major highways in developed countries.
We have in Guyana a most amazing situation, whereby public roadways are seen as opening new lands for development with the consequence that no sooner is a roadway opened, houses are built alongside the new roadway.
When the Railway Embankment was being constructed, the government actually paid compensation to persons living on the embankment to remove so as to facilitate the construction of the new roadway. Today, you can drive along that embankment and hardly find a vacant plot of land. It was also proposed that no household would have been allowed to have a bridge leading from the embankment. Yet today there are hundreds of bridges connecting the roadway to private residences on the embankment. To compound the situation, businesses have been allowed to be opened on the embankment, which is supposed to be an important road linking the East Coast to the city.
The problem with traffic management is also another area, which the government needs to address, and address urgently. Each morning during peak hours, traffic backs up in the approaches and within some of the main roadways in the city. The government needs to urgently address this.
The problem is that too many business activities are centralized within the city and action needs to be taken to reduce the approval of businesses, especially in residential areas in the city. It is appalling what the city has come to, with businesses now popping up all over. This should not be happening and especially since the city is unable to take off its own vehicular traffic.
It is no longer a question of when the government will have to limit industrial and commercial activity in the city. These limits need to be introduced immediately and the government must seriously consider introducing special business and entertainment zones outside of the confines of the city, so as to reduce the number of vehicles and persons which have to come to the city each day.
The laws of probability dictate that the more vehicles the greater accidents and the more accidents mean greater property losses which we are told amounts to billions each year.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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