Road safety in Guyana has come to represent a parody in daily tragedies that bring unending tragedies. We seem to be going nowhere, except to the hospital or to the cemetery.
The traffic cops cannot be everywhere, but are they ever anywhere? There they are: the numerous motorcyclists speeding and weaving uncaringly and unhelmeted in obvious defiance of the law. There they are: the solid citizens clearly and routinely to the right of the yellow dividing line on bustling two-way streets. This is a society where, for too many, red lights, one-way streets, and double lines mean absolutely nothing; they are there to be ignored and bypassed with the greatest nonchalance. Why?
It is because the law is regarded as toothless and meaningless; because some lawmen can be bought out now, or brought around later. Money is the best lightning conductor in Guyana. I see vehicles with tints darker than midnight and thicker than molasses; they wheel around without a care in the world. A while back there was a man freed of a capital offence who jumped on his motorcycle and roared away helmetless. This occurred right in front of the courts, and reemphasized the sentiment: to hell with the law. That is for sissies and dummies.
Now a few days ago, there is one who is involved in a fatal accident; he peers at the dying victim and promptly hurtles off in his chariot. There are too many of these disturbing happenings, this total contempt for the law, this reckless disregard for what civilized means. How to address?
I hear the charge of vehicular homicide recommended. I recommend a minimum penalty of 10 years, with more years for leaving the scene, being unlicensed and drunk driving, among other violations. Those convicted of serious offences must be made to operate a distinctively coloured vehicle. How about a glaring orange? They have earned the right to be singled out, embarrassed and humiliated. It might make others slow down, think twice, observe. Those on appeal should lodge licence and passport immediately. Incidentally, is it not time for the introduction of ankle bracelets here? Is it not opportune to reintroduce traffic wardens at known trouble spots, high speed boulevards, and empower them, if only for the deterrence factor? Many could use the jobs. And how about investigating, investigating ranks, inclusive of their reports, assets, and lifestyles? What about the presence of a strong IAD (Internal Affairs Department)? A real sharp one can say a lot about how serious and legitimate the crime fight is.
Yes, I know that all of this is best reckoned in dollars and bodies not readily available. Something has to give; perhaps, many things. If not, the parody of road safety reduces all to the level of fools, when it is not contributing to inflicting grievous bodily harm.