Stronger penalties among proposals at East Bank road safety consult

More stringent measures and laws to deal with drivers who misuse the road were among the proposals made to Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee on Sunday, during a meeting with hire cars, mini-bus and truck operators at Diamond Secondary School, East Bank Demerara on Sunday.

The meeting was held as part of the ongoing consultations with drivers to improve standards and inform road safety policies, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA). The meetings will also facilitate the establishment of road safety steering committees in the different police divisions.

“All the recommendations made will be documented, prioritised, and cost factored and those found sound will be implemented,” said Rohee, who has recently faced criticism over the lack of comprehensive road safety policies. According to him, it is essential that meetings are held with all the key stakeholders: those who make the laws, those who implement them and those who must abide by them because each group has a role to play in road safety.

Among their proposals, some participants at the meeting suggested that the ministry should consider lengthening the time for impounding vehicles as well as rescinding licences of drivers who misuse the road. A call was also made for conductors to be issued with a police clearance before getting licensed and that the licence should bear the conductor’s photograph. Drivers said too that stringent monitoring systems must be implemented at the various bus and car parks to deal with issues of “hot plate” buses and cars and the nuisance of touting.

According to GINA, it was also proposed that alternative transportation pathways be made available for the timber trucks and lorries that currently use the East Bank road.

Drivers complained that these vehicles cause serious traffic congestion and they destroy the roads. They suggested too that timber be transported using the river.

Drivers also raised a number of road safety issues that fall under the purview of the Ministry of Public Works, such as the need for road signs in the Diamond Housing Scheme, levees to offload passengers, more bus stops as well as mounted bus stops. They also suggested that road shoulders should be raised.

In response to concerns raised by the drivers, Traffic Safety Officer Nigel Erskine said that the Ministry of Public Works would work with the Neighbourhood Democratic Council to identify the locations in the Diamond scheme that need signs.

Regarding the levees, he said this issue is already engaging the ministry’s attention. With regards to shops that are impinging the road, resulting in traffic congestion along various parts of the East Bank road, the ministry has an ongoing programme that is dealing with the removal of these structures, he noted.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner, Commander of ‘A’ Division George Vyphuis told drivers that the time had come to think seriously about safety.  “If everyone practices road safety, there will be less chances of road fatalities,” he said. “Drivers must first understand and appreciate safety for themselves and appreciate safety for others,” he added. According to GINA, the assistant commissioner also said it is because drivers do not care for themselves and care only about making money that they forget about safety and behave lawlessly on the road.

GINA said members of the established East Bank Road Safety Steering Committee comprise Ovin Giddings, William Thomas, Colin Trotman, Fazil Zaman, Neetram, Jodonandan, Eric Benjamin, Ron Robinson, Matthew Farray, Wanda Corna, Hugh Denhert and Dennis Pompey; as well as two minibus drivers, two hire-car drivers, two private-car drivers, two truck- drivers and one representative each from the police department, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Road Safety Council.

The committee will soon meet to establish an East Bank Road Safety Council, comprising representatives from the division. This council is expected cooperate with the National Road Safety Council in identifying and addressing all the road safety concerns of the East Bank roadway.

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