December 23, 1999
SEVERAL points emerged for serious follow-up at the launching of the `Charles Kennard Safe Drive Campaign' this week and the authorities have something else to chew on in the suggestion from the Essequibo group in today's Chronicle.
There's no denying that at the heart of the critical traffic problem in this country is the attitude of many people permitted to drive on the roads.
Traffic Chief, Mr Paul Slowe calls the traffic situation "a public health problem..." and acknowledges that people continue to use the roads in a very "irresponsible" manner.
One point he raised at the launching of the safe drive campaign has to be followed up with local insurance companies which he believes can play a significant role in dealing with public transportation.
According to the Traffic Chief, the Police have found that these insurance firms are eager to give all types of insurance coverage to mini-buses and hire cars. The insurance firms should respond to the claims by Mr Slowe that their "open insurance" offer to vehicle owners, allowing them to employ anyone to drive a mini-bus, is contributing to the traffic situation.
According to Mr Slowe, these companies, in an effort to help stop the number of deaths on the roads, should stop giving "open insurance" for public transportation.
He is convinced that this "will go a long way in regulating the mini-bus industry" and it would be interesting to hear the views of the firms on this.
"They can decide not to insure persons to drive a mini-bus if they are below a particular age...(They) should make sure the (insurance) coverage reflects the risk that the driver poses to other road users", Mr Slowe recommends.
The point about the age of persons allowed to drive mini-buses seems valid as many people argue that most of them are entrusted with carrying passengers without the expected driving experience.
Another disturbing point Mr Slowe raised is the apparent lax system which he says has to be fixed.
It cannot be acceptable that in this age of emerging commerce by electronic means (e-commerce) and with computers taking over everywhere, record-keeping here is still in the stone age with all types of "skullduggery in terms of the issuing of licence," according to Mr Slowe.
His report that the "problem is that if a man commits 100 violations (and) unless you have a good memory, there is no proper record to say that he has been charged on several occasions..." is almost unbelievable and his plea has to be taken up with some urgency.
"Unless we realise how serious a situation we are in at the present moment, we are not going to be able to deal with the issue", the Traffic Chief urges.
And there is need for the judicial system to be brought up to scratch, according to Chancellor, Mr Cecil Kennard.
His acknowledgement that the courts, in some instances, have not been doing a good job and certain sentences appear not to take into account the seriousness of crimes, cannot be comforting to the society.
Those who are supposed to defend and administer justice and are guilty of lawlessness must be booted out of the system and their cases given maximum publicity.
What is a society to expect of a Senior Magistrate, who according to the Chancellor, in at least 17 cases, imposed penalties which were far below the minimum prescribed by the law?
Matters like these cannot be hushed up and swept under the carpet if citizens are to have confidence in and expect fair play from those entrusted with administering justice.
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