GUYANA: The GOOD LIFE eluding Mini Bus Passengers – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Minibus crash

– by Francis Quamina Farrier

Over Ten Thousand Guyanese have lost their lives on the roads of Guyana since Independence in 1966. This figure is in a country with less than a million in population and mini buses have made a significant contribution to that staggering total. Those killed include a Minister of Government. A Police Commissioner. Two teenage daughters of a Prime Minister. Two Boxing Champions. A Chief Librarian. A foreign diplomat.

Yet the MADNESS on Guyana’s Roads continues unchecked. Early this year, 2019, a vehicle in which the current Police Commissioner Leslie James was a passenger, was struck by another vehicle. Fortunately, the Commissioner was not injured. Will the lawlessness on Guyana’s roads continue in 2020 and beyond? Will you be killed in a Traffic Crash? Will I be Killed? On four occasions during this year, I was almost run over while using a Pedestrian Crossing in the city of Georgetown.         

I have witnessed on many occasions mini buses actually driving on pavements in order to over-take other vehicles. The madness goes on unchecked. Who do citizens turn to for “The good Life” on our Roads? It will be recalled that even a former Police Traffic Chief drove his vehicle while drunk and crashed into three parked vehicles. It would also be recalled the incident in which an elderly passenger in a mini bus was so roughed-up by the conductor that the poor man shortly after, collapsed and died. The madness on our roads and hooligan type behavior of many mini bus drivers and conductors which is causing lives, has even caused President David Granger to make a public statement a few weeks ago. But who will bell the cat? Rather, who will do something to bring this madness on Guyana’s roads to a permanent end? Where does the buck stop?

​When I wrote an article about ROAD HOGS and ROAD FATALITIES in April this year, 2019, the number of Traffic Fatalities at that time was fifty two (52). At the end of 2019, that figure rose to One hundred and twenty eight (128). That includes the precious lives of nine (9) children. Quite a number of those killed were due to the reckless mini bus operations. “I am fed-up and totally devastated by the laissez-faire disposition of commuters as they sit in speeding mini buses, most of them riddled with lewd obscene noises they call music, while refusing to voice their concerns, ” stated the retired Boxing champion Mike Benjamin in Face Book post recently.  “My experience has been anything but delectable as these hooligans that call themselves drivers gamble with their lives and those with many innocent commutters,”

Mike Benjamin wrote. Mini Bus operators, especially in Georgetown, are so out of control that they actually become engaged in fist fights with each other, and in a few occasions with Law Officers. Another Face Book contributor recommended that commuters use their cell phones and take photographs of offending mini buses and post them on Face Book. That action has already commenced. So while these Mini Bus Operators behave as though they are above the LAW and can do whatever they want to their PAYING passengers, a growing number of commuters have declared WAR on the lawlessness. This confounded nonsense must stop. People’s LIVES Matter. The Law Enforcers must do their job for which they receive a salary from Tax Payers contributions.

Former Police Commissioner David Ramnarine once called on mini bus passengers not to allow themselves to be terrorized by the mini bus operators. In translation, the Commissioner was saying that some mini bus operators are TERRORISTS. The sad aspect of that is that those mini bus TERRORISTS are apparently unrepentant. It seems that all that matters to them is the money from the ‘kidnapping’ of another passenger and potential road fatality victim. While for decades many mini bus passengers have sat like zombies in those mini buses and accepted the terrorist actions of the operators, that is now changing slowly. More passengers are speaking up. The terrorists behind the wheel will find it more and more difficult to get away with their reckless deadly operations.

As the serious end to this national problem, my understanding is that some Religious leaders, are considering the holding of an Interfaith Service at the Stabroek Market Square in Georgetown during Road Safety Week 2020, in commemoration to the more than ten thousand Road Fatality Victims since Guyana became Independent, and pray for the MADNESS on our roads to come to an end. Religious Leaders have held Funeral Services for so many Road Fatality victims. Will they come together and let their voices be heard in condemnation of this Road Rage Madness? They have the power and responsibility to speak up and help make a difference. More than ever, they need to use their power to bring sanity on the roads of The Cooperative Republic of Guyana and end the traffic terrorism. There are those Road Safety Councils who are doing a fairly good job in the face of the continuing slaughter on our roads, helping to keep the death figures from being even higher.

But in all the madness and heartaches, there are some great mini bus operators. The Bell Twin Brothers, for example, are among the very best in the country. There was that Route 42 mini bus driver who took three very brief phone calls while on a journey from Georgetown to Timehri – with every call, he pulled over and stopped, apologized to the passengers, and kept the call no longer than thirty seconds. He apologized to the passengers again and then moved on. As we come to the end of the second decade of the twenty first century, let us as a Nation vow to be more orderly on our roads. Let us in 2020 and beyond make our roads much safer. It is apt for me to repeat that I have been travelling in mini buses over the years, all over Guyana and the Caricom countries including The Cayman Islands, as well as in Ghana. So let us KEEP DEATH OFF OUR ROADS. And let us enjoy the promised Good Life which eludes us as passengers in mini buses.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. HAPPY NEW DECADE. HAPPY GOOD LIFE. KEEP DEATH OFF THE ROAD.

This cross is at the side of a road in Georgetown where a mini bus crash resulted in the loss of many lives. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

The Stabroek Mini Bus Park is regarded as one of the worst in the world, where operators even engage in fist and weapons fights with each other. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

Traffic Cop on duty at Parika, Region 3, checking out a mini bus. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

Hooligan mini bus drivers and stray animals on Guyana’s roads; a recipe for disaster and loss of lives. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On December 28, 2019 at 2:29 am

    Interesting analysis !
    Hope the political jackasses are “literate”
    enough to read and change/make laws …
    which are enforceable/enforced…with fines/
    imprisonments an option.
    It’s not rocket science.
    The Big market square should be
    “Pedestrianised” …a nightmare experience
    …on my last visit to GT.
    When flooded even more hazardous.
    Since 2000 have on many occasions
    suggested GT city move upriver to higher
    ground nearer CJ international airport !
    Seems to have fallen on deaf ears !

    Off my soap box
    Come on Guyana guyanese surely you can
    do better. Won’t live in GT unless it is resisted.
    Happy 2020 and beyond everyone

    Kamtan uk 🇬🇧🇬🇾🇪🇸👽

    • kamtanblog  On December 31, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Here is an idea ….
      Increase legal age for alcohol from 18 to 21
      and see if accidents and domestic violence
      decreases….not to mention poo poo random stop motorists and breathalyser dem.
      Anything above limit fine/jail.
      UK drink and driving laws are rigorously
      enforced. It’s has nearly half the death on roads
      in less than a decade.

      Let’s see how newly elected jackasses address
      the issue.

      Kamtan

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