When will the carnage end?

Guyana Chronicle
December 4, 1999

SEVEN more persons died late yesterday in yet another road smash-up involving a speeding mini-bus.

Speeding was also blamed for the terrible accident on a West Demerara road earlier this week when a young pregnant mother and her two-year-old son were killed.

Speeding and mini-buses have become synonymous with the worst road crashes in this country and yet the speeding and the don't-care-a-damn mini-buses operating the public road transportation system dominate.

After the mother and her son died in the Monday accident on the West Demerara, outraged readers blamed it all on road abusers.

One bluntly said: "...drivers...are really taking their `eyes and pass' (contemptuous of) everyone (pedestrians and other road users) by abusing their driving privilege" and declared that the measures against road abusers should be tougher.

"There should be a set speed limit and if drivers cannot abide by it, they should be given a hefty fine - one that would want to make them think twice about how they use the road", one reader suggested.

"That would be for their first offence or first warning.

"On the second time, they should spend a period of 90 days in jail and lose their licence.

"There should be no third chances", the reader added.

If it was not clear before, it should now be agonisingly and painfully clear to the authorities that it is time for an alternative to the mini-bus monopoly on public transportation.

Appeals to mini-bus operators to slow down and be more careful have not been heeded and even though many people fear travelling in them, they have no alternative because no other means of transportation is available.

Thousands along the coast daily depend on these vehicles to get to and from work, children use them to go to and from school, and others are forced to board if they want to get from place to place.

Even in the absence of statistics to be compared since mini-buses took over public road transportation, it is not conceivable that big buses more suited to operating in the sector could match the death rate that walks with the smaller vehicles.

Too many are dying in and have died from accidents involving speeding mini-buses and this latest tragedy has to force the hand of the authorities into devising a scheme that can stop the carnage.

The Police Onslaught On Traffic lawlessness campaign cannot be said to be working if a speeding vehicle can result in the death of seven persons, including another mother and her young child.

There has to be some way of stopping the slaughter on the roads of Guyana and if speeding mini-buses are among the chief causes, they have to be stopped in their tracks.

Decent society cannot allow this situation to continue and people have to start demanding effective action.

If mini-bus drivers cannot abide by the rules, they have to be banned from driving and the government has to lead the search for another cheap, workable and much, much safer means of public road transportation.

This madness cannot be allowed to continue.

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