Protect us from sophisticated beggars
Kaieteur News
May 9, 2007

Related Links: Articles on vehicular concerns
Letters Menu Archival Menu

The laws require that motorists and until a relatively recent modification, cyclists of every order be made to procure a licence before they could use the roadways. This afforded any person so licenced to use the roadways without let or hindrance.

To complement the licences are the insurance policies that set about protecting all those who use the roadways. The insurance is intended to control certain behaviour on the roadways and to help impose certain monetary conditions on the errant users.

For example, a careful motorist who becomes involved in an accident not of his making is provided with some protection. Any damage he suffers could be offset by the insurance.

We are not going to ignore what the law calls road service licences that stipulate the condition of vehicles and cycles that use the roadways. If a defective vehicle is using the roadway then that vehicle poses a risk to other road users.

The Guyana Police Force has a department that ensures proper use of the roadways and from time to time these patrols have set about causing the errant users to pay for their carelessness.

But these patrols appear to be sadly lacking when it comes to people or groups other than bona fide road users affecting the smooth flow of traffic on the roadways. And more recently there have been numerous instances of this feature.

On Sundays, the major thoroughfares are full of groups apparently soliciting contributions from motorists and certain other categories of road users for one worthy cause or the other.

Begging may be unlawful but in very few societies are beggars prosecuted. However, the laws do prevent beggars from hindering anyone who goes about in pursuit of legitimate business.

Two years ago, the government also passed laws prohibiting anyone from restricting or restraining a person who is going about his legitimate business. In short, if a person is seeking to move from one location to another and an individual or a group hinders that person by restraining that person, then the offender is guilty of a criminal offence which is non-bailable.

These days, however, despite these laws, one can see youth groups representing either a football club or some group carrying banners and cardboard boxes in the middle of the public thoroughfares. They impede the flow of traffic and while they have not yet menaced any driver they do disrupt the normal flow of things.

In the first instance, an individual or group must be licenced or otherwise legally authorized to solicit funds from the general public. People sponsoring raffles, bingos and the like must always notify the police. Failing to do this renders the proposed event null and void.

The authorities recalled this law when a prominent businessman in the city routinely collected monies and other articles ostensibly on behalf of poor people and the needy in the society.

By the same token it is time the authorities step in to regulate the extent of begging on the public thoroughfares, particularly at weekends. It is not unusual to encounter as many as three or four groups depending on which thoroughfare one chooses to use.

A motorist can scarcely be expected to read every banner that adorns the side of the roadway so invariably, if he or she is disposed, he or she may simply be donating money for a reason that cannot be explained.

This situation could even worsen if a driver is in a hurry, probably rushing some sick or injured person to hospital. Should such a driver encounter an unnecessary hindrance on the road two things are likely to happen. He could drive through the hindrance causing even more destruction or tolerate the hindrance to the detriment of the sick or injured person.

It is time the police traffic patrols protect the road user from this unwanted hindrance or the consequences could be detrimental to the society as a whole. There is no telling to what extent the soliciting on the streets could go.