Thanks, Mr President

Guyana Chronicle
July 21, 2000

THANKS, Mr President for directing that the `guvnor' be brought on board.

We make no apologies for insisting that it's high time to bring in the tough guys, including the `guvnor', to get tough with the speed merchants on the country's roads.

There is cause for satisfaction in yesterday's announcement that Cabinet has agreed that it is time for serious consideration of the introduction of the mechanical device in vehicles to check excessive speeding, especially those used in the public transportation system.

The decision to put this fresh campaign against mounting road deaths on fast track, with the Home Affairs Minister asked to report back to Cabinet within two weeks, indicates the seriousness with which the administration is treating the traffic matter.

The committee Minister Ronald Gajraj has been asked by Cabinet to establish and chair has its task cut out to come up with short, medium and long-term recommendations to deal with the traffic situation. Cabinet has directed that its findings and recommendations for appropriate action must include enacting legislation.

With the widespread concern at the road carnage, the committee may be overwhelmed with suggestions on how to address the situation. It will do well, however, to look at systems employed in other countries to deal with the monster of speeding and indiscipline.

The real problem on the roads in Guyana is that too many drivers do not operate by the rules, or are simply ignorant or do not understand these.

They do not recognise speed limits, so the `guvnor' will have to take charge and make them stay within the limits, especially those speed merchants in mini-buses.

And then there are simple basics like not stopping at a certain distance from street corners, obeying routine traffic rules and showing care, courtesy and consideration.

In many other countries, even in the Caribbean, buckling up (using seat belts) when driving has long been law and it has become second nature to drivers elsewhere. Despite the eminent common sense in using the belts, in Guyana those buckling up and driving are regarded as the exception rather than the rule.

And the committee, if it is be taken seriously, cannot escape taking a long and hard look at the Guyanese `culture' of drinking and driving.

It is a problem that has been ignored for too long, the kind of thing people like to keep as `a family secret' - it happens but don't make a big noise about it.

But all the committee has to do is to look at how fast Guyanese drivers have come to their senses in those New York communities where the police have started seizing vehicles of those found drinking and driving.

Tough measures work well. That's the clue.

Thanks again, Mr President.

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