A New Year’s Wish for my Guyana Eldorado – By Yvonne Sam

 — By Yvonne Sam

If there is one lesson life teaches us is that wishing does not make it so.

Let us be truly honest to ourselves.  How often do we abandon our New Year’s resolutions after January? We get stuck and return to old habits that are in no way helping the people, and by extension the country progress the way it should be.  On a cautionary note, let it be known that I abhor wishing; preferring instead to remain steadfast in the realm of reality. According to

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era,

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Wishing is not enough we must do.”

Notwithstanding, here are my New Year revolutions for my country and its residents:   

A prompt cessation to the vehicular homicides. Roads are indicators of development bringing huge benefits to communities as socio-economic and logistic facilitators. No longer can we stand by and allow them to be transformed into racing circuits and funeral biers. No more blood should be spilled on our highways and byways. The cessation of the railroads (Georgetown—Rosignol, Vreed-en-Hoop – Parika), and public transit system of old, which was basically a wooden super structure imposed on the chassis of a truck, brought in its wake the growth of road network. However, it is blatantly obvious that as a people we have failed miserably where road courtesy and road management is concerned, based on the number of road death that has caused severe civic pain and anguish from premature deaths of productive age groups.

Vehicles that are poorly maintained contribute to reduced road safety, whereas properly maintained vehicles always safeguard both the passengers and the pedestrians. Most accidents from vehicle failure are preventable, and motorists need to know the importance of proper maintenance. From henceforth all cars/ minivans/ maxitrans/ minibus/ transportation for us etc.-should be subjected to vehicular inspection and a certification bearing their roadworthiness be affixed to the inside of the vehicle. Those found in non-compliance should have the vehicle immediately confiscated and a hefty penalty imposed. —hefty enough to cause the perpetrator to give serious consideration to an instant change in occupational livelihood

Speeding and speed limit.  Speeding has been referred to as the bandmaster of the road crash orchestra.  God knows we need to slow down. Speeding triggers deadly accidents, for the faster a vehicle travels, then the higher the impact.  Chiefly among the remedial measures to be initiated would be automatic suspension of driving license, impounding of vehicle, application of demerit points, strategic positioning of traffic policemen with speed and radar guns, institution of speed bumps etc.,  provision of  signals for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic at all major intersections in Georgetown and outlying areas.  The duration of loss of a driver’s license should vary depending on the severity of the infraction and could range from six months to life.

sPlainly put the penalty should send resounding deterrent to all other drivers; in so much that instead of loud vulgar music being blasted while driving, passengers would be listening instead to hymns and oratories to the Father above.  A harsh example set will bring about a change you can bet. When the breadwinner can no longer earn his livelihood, there is no alternative but to become good.  Before the receipt of a suspended driver’s license the criminal should successfully complete a road test and driver’s examination, in addition to being on probation/ surveillance for a period not exceeding one year.  His driving record kept by the License Bureau should contain all evidence of his driving and road infractions.

The modus operandi of the organizers of Drivers Education Schools should be regularly examined, to ensure teaching programs in conformity with road rules and their application by potential drivers. Additionally, there should be regular Road Awareness Programs held in conjunction with schools, the public and The Police Traffic Department. Retraining, and sensitization on avoidable risky behaviors be imparted to professional and nonprofessional drivers in a systematic manner and to be a part of curricular education.

Random breath testing at police checkpoints and both breath and blood testing of all drivers involved in crashes should be conducted on all drivers involved in crashes regardless of fatalities or not.  Tough on the Spot penalties to be imposed.

Stringent laws need to be applied or put in place regarding seat belts. Belts should be mandatory, especially for driver and front seat passengers with mandatory fines imposed when failure to be strapped in is evident.  Although not an attributable cause, inability to wear a seat belt may increase the coincidental thrown out from or smash inside the vehicles, or go through the windshield leading to fatality.

In our tech-savvy new millennium there is a plethora of distractions that considerably reduces driving performance–   use of cell phones, text messaging, grooming while driving can all impair safety while driving.   It has become a hazardous fashion to use cell phones while driving. To compound this deadly issue is the application of audiovisual gadgets fitted to the vehicle leading to further distraction. The government needs to be proactive on this issue at the earliest opportunity.

Environmental factor infrastructure, namely the quality and maintenance of the road also has a large and important role to play. Road conditions in some parts of the nation are in an unacceptable condition, seemingly not built with long term vision of town and country planning, or an eye to the future to accommodate more vehicles down the line in the next few decades.

The current road safety standard needs to be addressed— conspicuously missing on a number of roads are well-maintained signals, signage and marking including  lane marking, erratic and unreliable traffic signals are a common experience. Also wherever possible the government should aim to install sufficiently high dividers to avert face –to-face collision in the case of two way traffic.

It has been rumoured that despite the increase in the number of vehicles on the streets of Guyana, globally accepted safety features are absent from the majority of vehicles for reasons of cost-cutting market competition , and are available only to high end vehicles.  As a consequence safety norms of transportation vehicles plying the streets of Eldorado are sadly far behind international standards.  This is a pressing need that should be addressed immediately to save further lives.  The process of issuance of driver’s license also needs to be reexamined.

The roads in Guyana need to be made safer for all citizens in order to save the productive age group population.  Such a move will favorably affect the overall growth of the country since a large percentage of population – children, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and the elderly – are most vulnerable on unsafe roads. The government must adopt a holistic approach to road safety involving all stakeholders from police to education with targeted and sustainable multisectoral, multidisciplinary intersectoral approach with optimal coordination mechanism and evaluation of outcomes. A Road Traffic Injury Registry should be initiated.

The Motor Vehicle Department should be overhauled, with personnel with managerial skills taking “center stage”—Those who will be competent to, implement stringent licensing procedures, and enucleate the traffic policemen on the road thereby halting corruption in traffic management and fine collection.  In addition to the government, the Police Department must play their part, and this they must do right from the start. Regarding the carnage on the streets, their personnel certain qualities must meet. The public has said that if the police you pay, they’ll overlook the crime and send you on your way.

2019 will soon be over and left behind. To the families and children of road victims a word of cheer—We will strive to make 2020 a Road Traffic Awareness Year.

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  • Trevor  On January 5, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    The roadways have gotten more dangerous because young people got rich daddy and mommy who own big mansions at EC and WC.

  • francis jackson  On January 5, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Ms. Sam, could you send your letter to all the ministers, president, vice president, police department and the traffic chief; also first responders;
    it certainly will help. Let us minimize the carnage on the street.

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