Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn on Sunday, called on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to advance its routine interventions to change the lawless culture of road users.
While statistics show a 31 per cent decrease in fatal accidents to date, Minister Benn said an aggressive approach, backed by heightened penalties, could maintain or further reduce road fatalities.
The minister made these remarks during the launch of National Road Safety month 2021, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal.
“When we pay attention to the statistics this year, we may want to question whether perhaps we are looking at a false positive in the statistics given the fact that we have been in the covid pandemic, and that perhaps in the result, the total absolute reduction may be more related to the reduced road usage during the pandemic.
We are putting in more tools and training in respect of the use of the roads and improved roads overall. We should try to maintain the absolute reduction which we have now,” he said.
The minister admonished the GPF to accelerate its wheel-clamping exercise for drivers who act outside of the law. He called also for law enforcement officers to regularly practice the different types of field sobriety tests.
Minister Benn said more measures are being implemented to significantly boost the safe city project, with the installation of additional road cameras with upgraded features.
The ministry will also take actions to stop the culture of persons driving motorcycles without a helmet by sourcing and distributing more safety headwear. The initiative is a continuation from last year.
“Our country cannot afford the loss of lives of persons on the road. The age cohorts which relate to road death and accident are between 20 to 35 years and it represents young people who have the greatest potential to continue to contribute to the development of our country,” Minister Benn asserted.
In brief remarks, Minister of Public Work, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP, said while the government is ensuring that Guyanese get safe and improved thoroughfares, the onus is still theirs to adhere to all stipulated road regulations.
He said Guyana is transforming at a rapid pace, and for the success to continue, the government will have to establish fresh policies.
“Government believes in the sovereignty of the Constitution of Guyana in which Article 149 J alludes to having an environment that does not cause harm to the citizens’ health and wellbeing.
Therefore, the government, through the Ministry of Public Works will ensure that speed-reducing measures are included in our road designs. Signs and barriers will be erected for additional safety, roads are adequately illuminated so as to not only advance safety, but to ensure security of persons residing within those areas,” the Public Works Minister said.
Meanwhile, Traffic Chief, Senior Superintendent Ramesh Ashram, pointed out that to date, the traffic department has recorded 76 fatal accidents, with 82 deaths. There were a 110 fatal accidents that claimed the lives of 120 persons for the same period last year.
He explained that investigations have shown that road users are not adhering to basic traffic rules.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, inattentiveness, and careless use of the road by pedal cyclists are some of the contributing factors to road fatalities, Senior Superintendent Ashram stated.
Additionally, PAHO/WHO’s Representative, Karen Roberts said that the organisation will continue to work across the spectrum in Guyana in a multi-sectoral manner to help preserve lives on the roadways.