Public transportation seminar ponders effects of road carnage
Stabroek News
March 16, 2002

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Startling statistics took centre stage at a public transportation seminar conducted for minibus operators by the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce at the Ocean View International Hotel yesterday.

The theme was `Efficiency, Care, Consciousness and Courtesy' and

Road Safety Consultant, Dr G. Budhu, delivered a gripping presentation, relating the ramifications of the road carnage in Guyana.

The statistics, which were compiled from a 1998-2000 study, revealed that while 170 people died as a result of accidents on the roadways over the three-year period, 37 per cent were pedestrians, 22 per cent were passengers, while only three per cent were drivers.

And while he spoke of needed implementation and recommendations, Budhu disclosed that among the most deadly routes in the country, the top three were Georgetown-Buxton, Georgetown-Timehri and Buxton-Mahaica.

He also said that a little known fact was that 2.2 people died per mile every year on the 11-mile Georgetown-Buxton route. Budhu pointed out that by looking at the cost of the carnage on the roadways, the country would be better able to identify the cost of improvement.

Yesterday's seminar, which commemorated World Consumer Rights Day, sought solutions to many of the problems plaguing the country's roadways as it also attempted to guide minibus operators in ways to improve their service.

And while the attendance of participants at yesterday's seminar was lacklustre, those present expressed a genuine interest in road safety education, but were uneasy about some of the proposals featured in a Mothers-in-Black handout.

During the opening remarks at the seminar, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Angela Johnson, observed that while tourism was growing in Guyana, there was an increasing demand for transportation services, and a need to bring credit to the country by ensuring the safety of passengers and road users. She urged all operators to work within the confines of law and order since the right to safety was a basic right to be enjoyed by all consumers.

Her views were echoed by Evadnie Fields of the Guyana National Bureau of Standards and Andrew Mendes, director, Sales and Marketing at Farfan and Mendes Ltd, who noted that the difference between Guyana and other countries was in the level of standards with many Guyanese being resigned to accepting second-class service, remarking "this is Guyana."

Meanwhile, Denise Dias, of the Mother-in-Black group, in brief remarks, dismissed any notion that the group=s campaign was against minibus drivers. She said the group was actually mothers for road safety.

Dias urged the regulation of speed, which she argued would cut the death toll on the roadways in half. She also called for judicial support of police action and for minibus owners to be included in litigation. She expressed the view that every road user should take more care, be more responsible and be conscious of every other road user.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Sonya Roopnauth, delivering the feature address at the seminar, acknowledged the need for education and urged operators to implement the solutions which were possible now rather than waiting for legislation.