Police to seek new laws on curbing road lawlessness

Stabroek News
October 25, 1999

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) is to approach the judiciary and the lawmakers to seek the implementation of new measures to curb the slaughter on the streets caused by lawless road use.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Thursday summoned to discuss the rise in traffic accidents recently, Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis, said he would be writing to Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, Chancellor of the Judiciary Cecil Kennard and other relevant authorities on how they could tackle the problem together.

Lewis also disclosed that he would be writing to the government with the proposal to facilitate night courts and the appointment of lay magistrates to deal with the many traffic cases.

"I am asking for these things to be expedited for we are in a critical situation," Lewis said.

He said insurance companies in Guyana had asked to have a meeting with the GPF to discuss the rise in accidents.

This was done last Thursday, and Traffic Chief, Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe, who had accompanied Lewis at the press conference, said several proposals had been forwarded by the Board of Directors of the Guyana Trinidad Mutual (GTM) Fire and Life Insurance Company to deal with the traffic situation.

Slowe said a number of the proposals submitted had already been dealt with by the police. He stated that speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol were among issues raised by the GTM Board. The traffic chief reported there was a proposal to urgently set up a committee consisting of engineers, police and other relevant agencies to look critically at the current traffic situation.

The committee, if established, would look at the design of the roads, traffic lights, road signs and other aspects.

At the press conference, Slowe lamented the lack of personnel in the traffic department and the force as a whole to deal with the carnage on the streets.

He noted a perusal of the records would show that charges for traffic offences, particularly speeding, were being handed down every day around the country.

He said the system required traffic policemen to attend court when these cases came up and this reduced the manpower needed to monitor traffic in the various areas.

Slowe pointed out that the traffic department had to use personnel from the police transport workshop and the offices because of the shortage of staff to work on weekends to monitor the revellers who frequented the creeks on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.

"Indeed we are short and quite naturally the shortage affects our ability to be in all these places where we know people use the road carelessly," Slowe stated.

Lewis said ranks of the Tactical Services Unit and the Mounted Branch were being trained to deal with traffic situations to give the department a boost.

Slowe said the force was also seeking to have the traffic ticket system reintroduced to make the programme more expeditious. He said because of the collapse of this system, policemen were now forced to charge offenders for minor offences and this resulted in having to spend valuable time in court. He noted that the system was discontinued because the fine for a traffic ticket was still $150 and the printers of the ticket had indicated that the cost of producing it was more than this.

Slowe said the force was seeking to have legislation passed to address the following: seat belts, speeding buses, breathalizers, tyres and rims, zoning of vehicles, modification of seating capacity, animal drawn and springless vehicles, roller blades on streets, pedestrian use of roads, colour of lights on vehicles and animals on roadways.

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