I write to offer prayers and sympathy to the families of the victims who perished in the fatal accident on Monday in Georgetown. My prayers and support for a speedy recovery also go out to the injured. I travelled in the minibuses during my brief stay in Guyana earlier this month. They are killing machines. They are always in a hurry and overloaded as the drivers/conductors hustle passengers to outdo competitors for loads. Some of the buses moved with airline speed making me feel I am flying. I also notice that drivers have no respect for pedestrians. Virtually none of them yield to waiting pedestrians on pedestrian crossings where there is no traffic light. I remember decades ago drivers would stop for crossing pedestrians. How much society has degenerated and rules been violated since colonial times.
I had thought the traffic police had clamped down on speeding with large amounts of money spent on radar guns and on upgrading the police. But that has not been my experience. Virtually no bus moves within the speed limit, and there are few which are not overloaded. In addition, the conditions of the buses are poor and dangerous to passengers. The tyres are run on the vehicle until they are smooth, with very little thread remaining to grip the road.
It is not surprising that tyres blow out regularly leading to fatalities. It is amazing how some of these vehicles pass inspection to be on the road. The authorities need to take immediate action to check on vehicles as well as to crack down on police graft. A common vehicular joke related to me in Guyana has to do with the police and left and write – “Lef something or I will write a ticket” is a common saying among drivers.
Owners, drivers, and conductors of vehicles should be held culpable for vehicle violations and for fatalities which ensue as a consequence of these violations. Police who close their eyes to violations should also be disciplined. And the authorities need to properly certify that vehicles are roadworthy. Lives were needlessly lost on Monday and in so many earlier accidents because of simple violations of the traffic laws.