President calls on road users, traffic cops to change mindset

President Bharrat Jagdeo has issued a call for road users to change their mindset and lifestyle in order to curb the carnage on the country’s roadways, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

President Jagdeo was speaking to over 300 participants of the Road Safety Volunteer Programme that was launched Friday at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) under the theme “Wear, Believe, Act.”

He also cited traffic police and others responsible for enforcing the laws that make the country’s roads safer among those requiring a mindset change as they too are sometimes culpable by default.

Jagdeo said that some officers have to improve the way they conduct themselves on the road, recognizing that there have been complaints about officers granting amnesty to those who commit traffic offences because of association and others who solicit bribes.

“It is not just the people who use the road but those who enforce the rules on the road that we have to seek improvement from and therefore I’ve asked the police commissioner on a few occasions to ensure that we have periodic checks to make sure that the policemen we deploy on the roads are living up to the high standards of the police force,” President Jagdeo is quoted as saying.

The programme is a partnership initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Guyana National Road Safety Council with support from the Alicia Foundation/Mothers in Black.

At the launch PPP Presidential Candidate and Adviser Donald Ramotar, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee and Police Commissioner Henry Greene also delivered remarks.

The theme song for the programme was performed by Tennicia DeFreitas while Henry Rodney and team performed a dramatic piece on road safety to reinforce the message. Denise Dias of the Alicia Foundation/Mothers in Black called for the programme to focus on the establishment of an accurate crash database and analysis of fatal and serious accidents.

The volunteers, most of whom are youths, were lauded by President Jagdeo for offering their services to an initiative that will save lives in the future and he noted that this signals their commitment to bring about change.

In May Guyana joined other countries in observing the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, a United Nations (UN) endorsed global initiative that highlights the growing impact of traffic injuries and deaths and the need to strengthen prevention and control measures.

Road accidents are the leading cause of death of persons under the age of 18 years and statistics from last year revealed that 1,377 persons were killed in fatal accidents over the last ten years.

Jagdeo observed that the road safety challenges are likely to become greater with major infrastructure plans in the making such as a bypass road in the vicinity of Mocha Arcadia and the expansion of the four-lane highway on the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara.

He also congratulated Dias and other members of the Alicia Foundation/Mothers in Black for the work they have been doing over the years. The organisation was formed by a consortium of mothers who lost children to road accidents.

Dias said she was confident  that the road carnage can be stopped if drivers observed the three Cs (Care, Courtesy and Consideration) as well as the three Es (Engineering, Education and Enforcement).  In his address Police Commissioner Greene expressed the view that compliance with the traffic rules will lessen the number of deaths on the country’s roads which he said outnumber the deaths caused by crime and other factors.

Greene disclosed that more than 35,000 people have been charged with various traffic offences and are facing litigation this year. Some of these offences include speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.

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