Gajraj pledges crackdown on traffic offenders
Law will be enforced
Stabroek News
July 10, 2001

The authorities will be seeking to enforce Section 112 of the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act, with the concurrence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, to suspend licences pending the outcome of prosecution in cases of grave traffic infractions, Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj has said.

He also stated at a press conference yesterday at the GTV 11 studios that the traffic situation in the country has reached alarming proportions for some time now despite the efforts of the police and civic organisations to stem the carnage on the roads.

He said pedestrians and cyclists contribute to the accidents but singled out passengers in public transport vehicles for special mention.

"They, in my view, contribute significantly to the road situation we have today," he said. The minister observed that passengers encouraged the overloading of mini-buses.

Gajraj said owners of mini-buses sometimes take out mortgages on property which, together with the instalments payable to the auto dealers, make it difficult to fulfil their financial obligations.

In order to meet these, the owners set a figure which the driver and conductor have to bring in daily. This leads to passengers "doubling-up and tripling-up," Gajraj said.

He said that there were some who felt the mini-bus trade was a gold mine but instead, by its contribution, "the funeral parlours are the ones making the money."

The minister noted that because of the high instalments the auto dealers want to be paid every month, purchasers have to "race the road" to meet the requirement.

He said drivers are turned into "road hogs" who do not show care for other road users while the auto dealers sit in their "ivory towers."

Another important factor in the equation, the minister said, is the insurance companies who should not escape blame for the traffic situation, Gajraj said.

There is an open insurance policy available from the companies for drivers. The minister pointed out that because of this policy a driver who commits a traffic offence, even death by dangerous driving, could operate another vehicle and be covered again by insurance.

Speaking recently on GTV 11 about the traffic situation, Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis acknowledged there were police ranks who accepted bribes from drivers, stating he would not "bury his head in the sand."

He disclosed, however, that there are persons on the prowl who look out for instances when bribes are passed. Lewis recalled that he went public three years ago about police ranks "dealing with the towel." 'Towel' is the local parlance for the Guyana $1,000 note.

The commissioner contended that bribery was a two-way problem.

He said if the drivers were strong enough not to offer any token to the police and to report the problem, then it would occur less. He urged that members of the public should not only make allegations of police accepting bribes but should come forward to give evidence.

Lewis accompanied the minister at the press conference yesterday together with Deputy Commissioner Floyd Mc Donald, Traffic Chief Superintendent Fred Wilson, and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Randolph Williams.