Seeing the lights
Guyana Chronicle
May 19, 2007

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AT LONG last, traffic lights are beginning to work again in Georgetown, and for many people, it’s a totally new, confusing experience.

It will take a while before it all becomes normal as it is in other countries but the authorities cannot leave it to chance.

Drivers here have become accustomed to not obeying road rules and drive as they feel and see fit.

The new lights now going up may seem a humbug to them, but they have to be quickly made to see the folly of their ways and to learn to stand in line, for the good of all.

It has not been easy getting to this point.

The installation of traffic lights at 50 critical city junctions is being done under a US$2.1M initiative being undertaken by the governments of Guyana and India and is intended to ease traffic congestion in Georgetown.

The major task is getting people quickly accustomed to what is required of them under the lights.

Routine programmes explaining the features and functions of the new lights are planned on television and radio and in the newspapers, according to the authorities.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said Traffic Safety Engineer Kadri Parris explained that the lights have various modern features.

The new lights are divided into five phases of movements for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

It has been observed that some persons are not au fait with the system and as a result are crossing the road irresponsibly, Parris said.

“These pedestrians’ pelicans are in place to ensure the safety of our pedestrians, who are the most vulnerable road users in the country and to ensure that they can travel safely,” he added.

Additionally, the lights have a countdown time which indicates to drivers when the signals are about to change.

Another feature includes directional arrows instead of the normal green lights and which are more user friendly, particularly for motorists and cyclists, GINA noted.

It said that responding to questions about security of the solar panels installed at each junction, Parris said safety mechanisms are being explored.

Persons are being urged to desist from attempting to steal or remove the panels as they will face charges for tampering with public property, the agency said.

There will, indeed, be many challenges with the new traffic lights and the authorities have to do all within their power to ensure they do not dazzle road users for too long and that they are there for the wellbeing and safety of all.

A critical factor would be a well-thought out and effective public education programme.

And the sooner, the better.