In the backdrop of an alarming rise in road fatalities and a public outcry for action, Acting Commissioner of Police Henry Greene yesterday unveiled several new plans including a ticketing system from November 1 with fines between $5,000 to 7,000 and the naming of those whose licences have been suspended
The 177 deaths on the roadways for this year represent a 52% increase in road fatalities. For the same period last year there were 116 deaths. So far for this year there have been 56 road deaths in ‘A’ Division, 39 in ‘B’ Division, 27 in ‘C’ Division, 21 in ‘D’ Division, 26 in E&F’ Division and 8 in ‘G’ Division.
Twenty-four persons perished in twelve days and Acting Commissioner Greene said the force has come to the realization that more needs to be done. Members of the public have said that in the past similar assertions have been made but these fall away after a couple of months.
According to the Commissioner as it relates to investigations into the Linden accident two weeks ago which claimed ten lives, the driver of the minibus is expected to be arraigned in court as soon as he has recovered fully and an arrest warrant has been issued for Ragnauth Abdul, the driver who parked the truck on the highway. The bus had smashed into the parked truck. Greene said Abdul was released on station bail and told he was to appear in court but never did, thus forcing the police to issue an arrest warrant. As for the driver of the minibus, he was expected in court yesterday but was unable to appear after he reportedly fell ill on Monday. And on the investigation into the Friendship, East Bank Demerara accident on Sunday which claimed the lives of two, Greene said the owner of the vehicle informed investigators that at the time of the accident the minibus had already been sold to someone else and they are waiting for the relevant document to prove this. On that same day six persons and an unborn child perished after a tyre blow-out at Liliendaal.
The Commissioner inform-ed the media of some possible strategies that were deliberated upon by all divisional traffic heads during a meeting on Monday last. Greene said that some of these plans will be implemented by November 1 and some have already been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for approval. Among some of the new initiatives will be the implementing of new ticketing fines which should be in effect as of November 1, the revising of the road service licence, the tint campaign, and the reintroducing of the coastal patrol.
The new ticketing fines will be between $5,000 and $7,000 as opposed to $150 in the past. The coastal patrol will see patrols throughout the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, along the west coast of Demerara and on the road to Berbice. Other measures include the publishing of photographs of persons whose licences have been suspended and the suspension of the licences of persons after two convictions. The force will also be moving toward having videos and photographs of persons in breach of the traffic laws published. Recommen-dations will also be made by the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Ministry of Home Affairs to have persons who have been charged for causing death by dangerous driving to have their licences suspended as well.
Greene said the force will also be working closely with the Bureau of Statistics to ensure that quality fixtures for vehicles are brought into the country. The force is also introducing two new 24-hour hotlines where persons can call and report persons who are caught breaking traffic laws. He added that while previously the force has focused on mainly minibus operators and taxi drivers this will no longer be so since commuters also play a role in road safety. To The Commissioner called on road users to stand up and not encourage lawlessness on the road. “In some cases it is the commuters who ask for a ‘squeeze’ in the public transportation and they even ask for the loud music which is also a traffic offence,” Greene said.
The Commissioner reiterated the need for the helmet law to be reinforced. “Many persons who were involved in motorcycle accidents would have been alive today if only they were wearing helmets and that campaign will be beefed up,” Greene said. In addition the commissioner said there would be zero tolerance for persons who are caught transgressing traffic light signals, persons caught speeding, overloading, driving unlighted vehicles and stopping on no-parking signs. “We intend to take drastic measures against persons found in breach of these offences and (to ensure they) are properly dealt with and placed before the court. If we have to inconvenience persons who are sitting in an overloaded vehicle we will because we think it’s time for action,” Greene pointed out. Also, over the next three months the force will be re-examining all licensed minibus and taxi drivers through their licensing and certifying officers. On Sunday the commissioner and other senior ranks will be meeting with minibus and taxi operators when they will be able to air their concerns. The force has also examined several ways to ease the congestion on Regent Street and the question of creating new bus stops and bus parks. This is currently being further discussed and examined. The issue of drunk drivers will also be carefully re-examined. To this end the Guyana Police Force is calling on medical practitioners to come forward in the courts and give their findings as evidence against drunken drivers. The commissioner added that several other traffic laws are currently being reviewed. Traffic safety advocates have also pressed for the introduction of the breathalyzer law.
A proposal will be made to all insurance companies to have drivers listed on insurance policies. Greene said this proposal was made but it was left open. “We want to have it listed on the insurance policy who are the drivers authorized to drive the vehicle…we feel this will help to bring some level of order where driving is concerned. The Commissioner also made mention of the new procedure for one to obtain a driver’s licence. He said although these new requirements have been implemented a while now the force is and will continue to use this as another means of curbing road carnage.
Some of the new requirements for obtaining a driver’s licence are: one must attend all four compulsory lecture sessions before doing the theoretical exams. Persons who fail to attend these lectures will be barred from writing the exams, Greene said. Also too, the force will be looking at having all driving schools registered. The Acting Commissioner added that the force also has some other new measures which will be implemented but preferred not to mention those. Members of the media were also called upon by the commissioner to assist in the fight against road carnage. (Jenelle Carter)