Guyana: Road Hogs continue the Road Slaughter – by Francis Quamina Farrier

– by Francis Quamina Farrier

As the Guyana Police Force celebrates its 180th. Anniversary, I am revealing the grim fact supplied by the Traffic Division, that over nine thousand (9,000) Guyanese have been killed in Road Crashes since the country gained its independence in 1966.

You should also know that on four separate occasions, I was almost run over by a vehicle while using a pedestrian crossing in Georgetown, for this year, so far. I have to give credit to my Ballet Teacher for the excellent training which I received when as a teenager, I attended ballet classes and thank goodness, I can still make some life-saving ballet moves.   

Sadly, we have to agree that there is a growing percentage of drivers who can be classified as Road Hogs in Guyana in more recent years; drivers who are criminally aggressive and expect everyone else to get out of their way when they are using the public streets and roadways. Just stand on a downtown pavement in Georgetown, close your eyes, and listen. You will readily recognize the road hogs behind the wheels. They just keep honking their vehicle horns on and on and on. In the town of Hoboken in New Jersey, USA, there is a Law against the honking of vehicle horns. The fine on conviction is $100; which is equivalent to GY$210,000.

They are the type of drivers who Tangerine Clarke recommended to be banned in her article of forty years ago. They just keep the incessant honking of their vehicle horns; even in so-called Quiet Zones such as around hospitals and the Courts. I have spent over 50 five-minute periods in those so-called Quiet Zones, listening to the continuous honking of vehicle horns, and conclude that Georgetown can arguably be classified as being one of the noisiest cities in the world. In a recent brief exclusive interview with the Traffic Chief, Senior Superintendent Linden Isles, he stated that the Police will be taking action against this illegal practice by motorists who honk their vehicle horns in Quiet Zones.

Forty years ago, veteran journalist Tangerine Clarke launched her illustrious journalistic career with a feature article in the Guyana Chronicle Newspaper of April 8. 1979, which had the Headline, “Ban the Road Hogs”. Ms. Clarke had experienced tragedies in her own life, with the deaths of two very close relatives, who were killed in Traffic Crashes. Since the publication of Ms. Clarke’s article forty years ago, over nine thousand (9,000) Guyanese have been killed in Road Crashes.

They include Ms. Christobelle Hughes, the mother of the celebrated Attorney Nigel Hughes, who lost her life on August 16, 2015, when a speeding vehicle driven by an alleged drunken driver, slammed into the vehicle which was taking her home from a family gathering. Also killed by a speeding vehicle, was the Chief Librarian of the National Library, Ms Gillian Thompson, whose vehicle was broadsided by a speeding vehicle on December 23, 2011. She died on the spot. Another high profile female who was killed in a Traffic Crash, was Minister within the Ministry of Education, Dr. Desrey Fox, who lost her life on December 11, 2009. The vehicle in which the minister was a passenger, was hit by an ambulance. The most high profile male to be killed in a Traffic Crash in Guyana, was Police Commissioner Henry Greene, who lost his life in a horrific two vehicle crash on the West Coast Demerara, in which a child was also killed.

Recently, I requested and received the following figures regards the slaughter on our Roads, from the Police Traffic Division. The three years with the highest traffic fatalities are as follows; In 1985, 212. In 1986, 215, and the highest number, 225 was in the year 1982. The years with the lowest fatalities are 2017 with 115. For second lowest were the years 2010, 2011 and 2013 which tied at 112 killed. And the year with the lowest number of Road Fatalities was 2010 with 110 fatalities,

The three years in with the highest number of children were killed were 1971 with 54 fatalities, 1978 with 55 and topping the list, 56 victims in 1982.  The years with the least number of children killed on the roads of Guyana are as follows; 7 each in 2008, 2010 and 2012. There were 4 in 2018 and 2 in 2017.  It would be remiss of me not to publicly thank Corporal Higgins of the Police Traffic Headquarters who went above and beyond the call of duty to provide me with much of the details which I have used in this feature article.

Following this 180 Anniversary of the Guyana Police Force, the recommendation by journalist Tangerine Clarke of forty years ago  to “Ban the Road Hogs”, must be seriously addressed by those in authority in order to save lives. It is a well-known ‘secret’ that many drivers in Guyana never earned their licenses to drive, but rather ‘bought’ the document from rogue police officers.  That illegal corrupt practice needs to end, since, according to experts, people who drive in public places, having not been properly tested by the competent authorities, are most likely to be bad and dangerous drivers.  To lose over nine thousand (9,000) lives in fifty years in a country with just a little over half a million population, must be regarded as being most tragic and very unacceptable.

Fifty two persons including two children have been killed due to Traffic Crashes in Guyana during the first six months of 2019. As we came to the end of the first half of 2019, on Saturday June 29, Livestock Farmer, 61 year old Colin Crawford died after being struck down on the McDoom Public Road by a vehicle which was driven by a police constable. How many will be killed during the second half of the year? Will you be one? Will I be one?

This “QUIET ZONE” sign is located on Brickdam at High Street; one of the noisiest areas of the city. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

​Police Traffic Patrol at Parika, East Bank Essequibo, Region Number 3. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

When you are caught in the chequered box like this, then you could be classified as a “ROAD HOG”.(Photo by. F.Q. Farrier)

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