Public transport accounts for only 35% of road deaths
- Nadir
Urges end to mini-bus bashing

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 22, 2000

President of the Guyana Public Transportation Association (GPTA), Manzoor Nadir, has said that contrary to reports mini-buses were only responsible for 35% of road deaths.

Nadir was at the time presenting a preliminary report on a pilot project undertaken by the GPTA to regularise the route 40 mini-bus park.

The United Force (TUF) leader also noted that the Guyana Police Force should be commended for reducing the number of road accidents in the 90s as compared to figures of the 70s even though there were more vehicles on the country's roads now. He said that in the 70s there were around 20,000 vehicles on the country's roads as compared to the current 55,000. He said the efforts of the police had gone unnoticed in this regard.

Referring to what he described as "mini-bus bashing" by people who linked them to every road accident which claimed lives, Nadir said mini-bus accidents only accounted for 35% of road deaths. However, he acknowledged that mini-buses accounted for only eight percent of the estimated 55,000 vehicles currently operating in Guyana.

According to Nadir in 1995, of the 166 persons killed on the roads, 39% were as a result of mini-bus accidents. In 1996, this form of public transportation was responsible for 52 of the 154 road deaths. Mini-buses killed 52 of the 151 persons who died on the roads in 1997. In 1998, mini-buses were responsible for 47 of the 154 road deaths and in 1999 of the 161 persons who had been killed on the roads, 67 were as a result of mini-bus accidents.

He questioned why the authorities were not looking at the some 4,000 trucks now operating on the roads. He charged that some of these trucks speed along the streets, park on the roads without any warning signs and have been the cause of many accidents and deaths. "Yet nobody picks on them," he lamented.

The GPTA president complained that no one noticed the reckless motor-cyclists, the horse-drawn carts which broke the law, or the private vehicles with their drivers on their cellular phones, but were constantly bombarding public transportation.

Nadir said government should not only look at the public transportation system when talking about curbing the carnage on the road, but at a complete programme for all categories of road users.

The TUF leader is also advocating a comprehensive education campaign for children. He said children should be taught how to use the road safely. In answer to a query, he said the association would support the authorities on whatever measures they decided to take to reduce lawlessness on the roads. He said the GPTA would support the use of a radar station and an increase in fines. Responding to a question about a mechanical device to curb excessive speeding, he said he wished that the government would have discussions with the association before implementing such a decision. According to Nadir, there were problems associated with the installation of the device on vehicles. He said the device could result in accidents since drivers at some point, might have to increase their speed to avoid an accident.

Nadir described President Bharrat Jagdeo's call for the use of the device as an "emotional" one, following the deaths of 12 people as a result of two accidents on the road during the CARICOM Day weekend. He said decisions must be well thought out and analysed.

The GPTA pledged to play its part in reducing the number of road accidents and the carnage on the roads, but noted that public transportation should not be seen as the only mode of transport responsible for deaths on the roads.

Cabinet has mandated Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, to urgently look at measures to stop the carnage on the roads. The minister was asked to look at introducing, among other initiatives, any appropriate mechanical device to curb speeding.

Gajraj was also directed to establish and head a committee to immediately address short-, medium- and long-term measures to deal with the traffic situation. The minister has two weeks to report the committee's findings and recommendations for appropriate action. (Desiree Jodah)

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