Guyana Chronicle
January 23, 2002

THIS IS INCREDIBLE AND MOST REGRETABLE. Getting into the internet every morning before doing anything in the office, I will check the website of the Chronicle and get my daily news of what is happening in my dear Country. But on most occasions I come across the spate of road deaths and the carnage on our roads. I read of the last and most recent accident that occurred where those innocent children lost their lives on the East Bank of Essequibo, which in my opinion (without prejudice) was due to gross carelessness and abundant negligence on part of the mini bus.

For those who are directly and indirectly concerned and affected with this disturbing factor, it is time to take a very serious view of the present situation which is so devastating and shameful when one looks at the statistics of a country that has a population of about 800,000 people and a road fatality rate that surpasses some of the North American Countries, having millions of people. On the face of it, it is down-right primitive.

Guyana which is a fast developing country in the Caribbean is being looked upon as being primitive when one looks at the carnage on the roads. There is total disregard for other road users and on the whole the rich young human resources whose greatly anticipated input into the economy of this fast progressive country are being taken away. THERE'S GOT TO BE A STOP SOME WHERE AND A LINE DRAWN BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

As a former Lawyer's Clerk of two outstanding legal practitioners of Berbice, Messrs. Reggie Rawana and Malcolm Taharally and presently a Paralegal and Notary Public Officer of the State of New York, I have, combined with my experience both in Guyana and New York, come up with a few suggestions.


First.: Motor Vehicles are mechanically designed and made to carry certain weights. This is obvious from the details of the registration of the motor vehicles. It is a known fact that Vehicles carrying weights above the prescribed amounts are subjected to machanical defaults, for example, malfunctioning of the brakes, gears, balancing of the vehicle, which in most cases cause vehicles to sway from one side to the other as in the case of most of the accidents.

Secondly: Smooth tyres which cannot sustain the weight of the vehicle, especially if it is overweight, will give up at some unexpected time.

Thirdly: Speeding, which on many occasions is as a result of drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol. This is very prevalent among vehicles plying for hire. There are many supporting factors to this.

Fourthly. Has anyone ever taken into consideration that deadly gas (CARBON MONOXIDE) emanates from the exhaust manifold into the vehicle via the running board?. This is being inhaled by the occupants of the vehicle including the driver which, when inhaled can make one dizzy. Even the driver may not realize this as this intake is a slow killer as CARBON MONOXIDE is a poisonous gas. It is evident that in many cases drivers who operate their vehicles on long distances suffer from slight strokes. This is a major contributor to accidents

Fifthly: To curb this problem, I recommend, as is frequently done in other countries, the setting up of a network in order to control vehicles, especially vehicles plying for hire. It may look difficult but if applied properly, it could work. WE MUST REALISE THAT THE RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY, BOTH HUMAN AND ECONOMIC, ARE AT STAKE AND ARE LOSING AS A RESULT OF SERIOUS NEGLECT IN IMPLEMENTING STRONG MEASURES TO CURE AND/OR ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM.

The Traffic Department should provide a CHECK LIST, with specific instructions prescribed by Law when carrying out certification of motor vehicles, be it private or passenger or what ever vehicle. In this case a record is kept in the computer or other recording devices of the Officer carrying out the certification detailing any defects or otherwise.

Vehicles found with defects should have the Licence suspended until proper certification is done. The Insurance Company should immediately be aware of this vehicle being suspended off the road and the Insurance immediately suspended.

The Traffic Department in collaboration with the regular Police should go undercover boarding vehicles periodically and especially in rush hours at points which are vulnerable to heavy trafficking. If and when one is found in violation of the Law, he or she should be immediately withdrawn from the vehicle, place under arrest and taken before the courts as soon a possible. If convicted, the Insurance Company should be immediately informed of the conviction and have the Insurance suspended immediately. This of course will need to have all the Insurance Companies co-operating to such a Law being into force. Government should not be the loser economically, because of this outrageous and intolerable behaviour of people who disregard the lives of innocent people. I often wonder how some of the Insurance Companies are still existing and not filing for bankrupcy with all the accident claims which keep coming.

The Police should also go undercover staking out bars and liquor restaurants looking for drivers who consume alcohol and drive. They should know that it is a violation of the law to drink and drive and also violating the terms and conditions of the Insurance coverage. If and when found in violation, their Licences should be suspended, they should be fined and/or imprisoned for such default and the Insurance Company notified immediately. By so doing, when attempts are being made to get coverage from another Insurance Company they would be told that they cannot be accepted because of their conviction.

One very important suggestion is that vehicles plying for hire between long distances should be monitored. One may ask how. It is simple. For example, vehicles plying between Rosignol and Georgetown should before leaving their destination record their time of departure and upon arrival record their time. This should be mandatory and anyone found in violation should be suspended from that route. In doing do one will come to the conclusion the distance covered and time in which it was covered.

I personally feel that the amount of monetary awards handed down as compensation by the courts against the Insurance Companies can be avoided if serious suggestions are taken into consideration and applied.
Himraj Koobeer