Traffic campaign takes hold

by Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
October 23, 1999

THE Police have reported positive results in the `aggressive' campaign launched Thursday against traffic offenders in the wake of rising road deaths.

Traffic Chief Paul Slowe told the Chronicle yesterday afternoon that some 50 vehicles were pulled in after being found to be defective and about 60 persons were detained for various offences.

He said some offenders were issued with traffic tickets, while others were charged and placed before the court.

Road fatalities have reached 146 so far this year compared to 113 for the same period last year. Within the past week some nine persons were killed in road accidents.

Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis said at a press briefing Thursday that the situation had reached a "critical stage" and

the Police had to take a "more aggressive line and start protecting people from themselves".

The Commissioner assured that even defaulting members of the Police Force will be pulled in and he is reported to have himself arrested a Policeman he saw driving against the traffic on the new East Coast Demerara railway embankment road yesterday morning. Sources said the Policeman was under "close arrest".

Last night, a joint operation was due to start at 19:30 hrs involving ranks from the Police and the City Constabulary on two of Georgetown's busy thoroughfares, Main Street and Sheriff Street.

And at 10:00 hrs tomorrow, Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj is due to meet Lewis; Deputy Commissioners; Assistant Commissioners; Heads of Divisions and Divisional Traffic Officers at the Police Officers' Mess in Georgetown.

The discussion will focus on the traffic situation and other related matters, a release from the Home Affairs Ministry stated.

In an October 20 memorandum from Gajraj to the Commissioner on the traffic situation and circulated to the media, the minister noted "the existing traffic situation has become much more than alarming".

Underscoring the need for "urgent intensified action", he said while he was aware the Police have been trying to deal with the situation generally, "there is still so much to be done."

Gajraj suggested too that consideration "ought to be given to intensified public education via television, radio, newspapers and flyers."

He said "in particular the owners, drivers and conductors of mini-buses and other vehicles plying specific routes throughout the country, are to be engaged by the Police at various locations for the purpose of meetings and discussions in the presence and with the participation of senior officers of the Guyana Police Force. Executive bodies and membership of associations and/or organisations representing the interests of those involved in public transportation, must also be in similar exercises at divisional and national levels," he added.

The minister also said the Ministry of Education should be involved in the campaign against potential traffic defaulters and suggested the Police conduct road safety lectures in schools and other educational institutions.

He suggested too that a dedicated series on road safety be on the `Broadcast to Schools' programme; the Guyana Council of Churches should be requested to encourage talks in churches and social organisations, including the Lions, the Rotary Club, the human rights group, the Private Sector Commission, the Salvation Army and the chambers of commerce, should be asked to help in the effort to make the roads safer.

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