`Boom boom' ban
...no mini-bus driver's licence for those under 25 By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
January 18, 2002

NO ONE below the age of 25 will be allowed to obtain a mini-bus driver's licence if proposed new "fast track" traffic regulations are approved by the National Assembly, Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj said yesterday.

He said no one under the age of 25 will be allowed to do a test in order to obtain a mini-bus licence.

In addition, "boom boom boxes" regulations are also to be enforced as a matter of priority, he said. This will see the sets which belt out music in mini-buses being "seized and forfeited, " he reported.

At a news conference at his Georgetown office, Gajraj said his ministry, in conjunction with the Attorney General's Chambers, is working expeditiously on finalising the seat belt regulations, which propose a requirement for each passenger seat to be fitted with a seat belt.

Passengers, in turn, will face the heat of the law - a fine of up to $10,000 or seven months in jail - if they are caught without the belt on.

The proposed regulations for the use by Police of radar guns to detect speeding will see a person being fined not less than $2,000 or imprisoned for two months, unless there are any changes when the regulations are debated upon by the National Assembly.

Gajraj acknowledged that speeding is a significant contributor to accidents in Guyana.

The other proposed regulations being fast tracked are those dealing with the use of a breath-testing mechanism, under which a driver found to be under the influence of alcohol and unable to control his vehicle may be liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than $30,000 or to a jail term of 12 months.

Gajraj said the Government is committed to ensuring that the roadways are safer and he is calling for all citizens to help in ending the reckless use of the roads by drivers, which results in a wanton loss of lives and the crippling and disfiguring of others.

He said that once the new regulations become law, there would be rigid implementation.

When a mini-bus is speeding, Gajraj said that if one person objects, it would not do as much good as if all passengers joined their voices in "unison" against reckless and dangerous driving.

He said there would be an intense public awareness campaign to educate citizens, especially children, about the safe use of the roads.

However, the minister said the travelling public must do its part in encouraging Police ranks to do their job and referred to one case when an officer was verbally abused by a passenger when he stopped the bus in which she was travelling for a routine check.

Gajraj admitted that there are officers who are less than professional in their dealings and is calling on the travelling public to come forward with the facts.

He is promising action against policemen or their acquaintances who would want to "pressurise" persons highlighting unprofessional acts of the Police. The minister assured that if action is not taken, he will personally handle the matter in question.

Gajraj noted that the traffic situation is not beyond control, but all have to come together to make the roadways safer.