Embankment road Editorial
Stabroek News
January 14, 2002

Numerous safety concerns have been raised about the two-way traffic on the East Coast Embankment Road which began on December 1 last year. It is still too early to pronounce on the wisdom of the move but certain steps can be taken immediately to preserve life and limb.

While the Home Affairs Ministry is undertaking a comprehensive review of the traffic situation entailing consultations countrywide, it is clear that several of the serious problems can be addressed right away. Friday's horrifying smash-up on the West Coast of Demerara that claimed the lives of four teenagers and maimed others crystallises one of the main problems - speed. If there is a concerted effort by the traffic police to restrain speedsters on roads there could be a telling impact on the carnage. This is one effective action that can be taken on the Embankment road.

The Embankment road was intended to ease the congestion on the East Coast public road and to provide another conduit for those who live along it. When it was used only for one-way traffic the point was made that it seemed to be a waste of resources. The real problem is that its construction was not part of an integrated programme to address the need for new roadways and the traffic congestion on the East Coast and East Bank. Nevertheless, it was a significant new investment in roads and its reversion to two-way traffic has raised dilemmas.

There has been an average of one serious accident a day on this Enmore to Sheriff Street road. Over a one-month period, there were two reported deaths and 10 injuries. Whether this figure is higher than the average for a 13-mile stretch can only be discerned by trying to compare it with casualty figures for the said length of the East Coast road and making allowances for the different attributes of the two and traffic.

What is readily apparent is that some features of the Embankment road and its location make it more susceptible to accidents and therefore require corresponding steps by the Police Traffic Department and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

* There are several blind spots along the road at junctions with secondary roads. At one, the Conversation Street junction, there have been several accidents. The latest one on Saturday led to three injuries and could have been even more serious. Because of bends in the embankment road and bush, drivers going south onto the road cannot readily assess the oncoming traffic. Immediate steps should be taken to clear the bush and vegetation that is obscuring vision at junctions along the road. Where other unchangeable aspects of the road impair the view of drivers access onto the embankment road should be prohibited. Traffic should therefore only flow from the embankment road into the secondary road.

* Given the number of pedestrians who use this thoroughfare there is a pressing need for a footpath with a protective rail.

* More pedestrian crossings and other road markers are also a must considering the number of points where the road intersects with heavily populated villages and the large number of school children who use it.

* Traffic lights should be contemplated at some of the more treacherous junctions such as the one at Sheriff Street where traffic flows in many directions and it's a free for all on any given day. It now seems that preparations are being made for the installation of traffic lights on Sheriff St.

* There must be a greater police presence along the road to enforce the traffic rules.

* Speeding on this road is already a pernicious problem and the police can get a grip on it by institutionalising the use of the radar gun in preparation for wider use countrywide. Drivers should be charged without hesitation.

* Illumination of the road is needed. Reflectors would help in the meantime

These are the minimum requirements for the continued and safe use of the road. It makes little sense for the Home Affairs Ministry and the police force to hold consultations nationwide on the traffic problems if they don't take the steps they can easily take to make the Embankment road safer. The authorities can also learn much in consultation with the residents who live along the road now that two-way traffic has been in force for a period.