Stopping speeding must be put on fast track Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
January 17, 2002

JUST days after the tragedy in which four young students died when a speeding mini-bus spun out of control, another mini-bus reportedly crashed into a truck on the Mahaica road, injuring a baby, a grandmother and others.

It was a grim reminder, if any was needed, that there can be no more delay in stopping the speed monsters on the roads of this country.

Passengers in the bus which crashed Tuesday afternoon said it was speeding and shortly before the accident they called on the driver to slow down but he ignored them.

We have backed calls before for a mechanical device, called the `governor', to be placed on mini-buses on public transportation routes to keep their speed within a certain limit because drivers have shown a marked reluctance to keep within the legal limits.

Nothing much has been done on that suggestion and the speeding continues.

Realistic solutions have to be found to the problems and speeding has been identified as the main cause of deaths on the roads.

The East Bank Essequibo villagers who protested as three of the young students were being buried Tuesday, demanded action against speeding, among other factors.

On Tuesday, Police Commissioner, Mr. Floyd McDonald said that despite stringent work by the Police Traffic Department, speeding continues to be a major problem and is the main contributory factor to accidents in Guyana.

Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj yesterday said new traffic regulations requiring the use of seat belts, radar guns to monitor speeding and a breath-testing mechanism to determine alcohol use by drivers are to be put in place as "fast track" measures to curb carnage on the roads.

We warmly welcome the announcement that wearing seat belts would become compulsory but are concerned that the penalties for speeding seem rather light.

Under the radar regulations, the proposal is for those found exceeding the speed limit to be liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 or imprisonment for two months.

This does not seem like the kind of fine that would make a driver want to keep within the limits - a $2,000 fine is `chicken feed' for drivers of mini-buses determined to stay in the fast lane chasing fast bucks.

We are sure concerned groups and individuals would make their concerns known in this regard because they recognise that speeding has to be checked if sanity is to return to the roads of this country.

Given the situation and the urgency for a crackdown against speeding, the passage of the new legislation, with the appropriate changes for stiffer penalties, should get priority on the legislative agenda.

Mr. Gajraj said the new "fast track" traffic regulations are being worked on "expeditiously" to have them in the National Assembly at its next sitting.

We expect all in Parliament would cooperate in ensuring there is no more delay in strengthening the hands of those charged with putting firm brakes on the speed monsters.