Recklessness on the roads

Guyana Chronicle
March 8, 2000

ANOTHER victim from the dreadful Monday road accident at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara died yesterday, taking the toll to 12.

And as if to send home the mini-bus madness message with a vengeance, another toppled into a trench in Berbice just hours after the carnage at Mon Repos and a teenager joined the list of fatalities.

This country does not need another reminder that appeals to most drivers to slow down and not be reckless on the roads DO NOT WORK.

The death toll from mini-bus accidents since these vehicles became the mainstay of the public road transportation system tells its own story.

Seven died in one mini-bus crash in 1998; seven died in another last year.

Now 12 have died in one accident involving a mini-bus and others are critical.

And speeding is the main cause - again.

Several countries in the Caribbean, Barbados being the latest, are critically reviewing legislation to introduce measures that will make their roads safer.

And Guyana has to be right there in the frontline among them.

Mounting concern about the recklessness on the roads of Barbados by route taxis, the so-called `ZR' taxi phenomenon, has led the Attorney General there to announce plans to introduce legislation to penalise the operators AND OWNERS of the buses for serious traffic violations.

Many drivers and operators of mini-buses here and in other countries claim that they have to `speed' if they are to make enough trips to meet a set quota from which they are paid. If they do not meet the quota, their take is cut.

So it arguably makes sense for the authorities to also go after those owners who drive the drivers to excessive speeds and recklessness thereby creating horrors for their paying passengers and others.

In Barbados, there is a general outcry on call-in programmes for those found guilty to be disciplined by having their drivers' licence withdrawn and for the licence issued to owners to be suspended if they cannot ensure discipline among the people they employ to drive and operate their vehicles for public transport.

Guyana is now among other countries in the region caught up in the growing demands for tough action to deal with recklessness on the roads and the reckless have to be reined in.

In Barbados, we understand, associations representing owners and operators of the mini-buses have come around to accepting that recklessness among those in their ranks must be weeded out.

They have reportedly met the Police to discuss mutual cooperation on dealing with the crisis.

The government here has to also speedily amend the law to put new limits on speeding and make the penalities stiffer for drivers and owners found guilty of serious infringements.

We have said before that the authorities have, in addition, to seriously consider installing mechanical checks to ensure that mini-buses operating the public transportation system cannot be driven over an acceptable set speed.

This will end appeals to drivers to stay within a certain speed limit because they plainly and simply will not be able to drive over the limit.