Practice of constructing highways in populous built-up areas must end

Dear Editor,

A few days ago a young girl was horrifically killed in the blossoming of her youth.  

Various persons have apportioned blame for this to all players who may have contributed to this catastrophe, including the hapless driver, who was tried, found guilty and punished by the citizenry. 

We are, however,  missing a fundamental factor which goes to the heart of policy formation in a young nation such as ours.

That factor is the long-established practice of constructing highways in populous built-up areas of our country.  As far back as the nineteen seventies when the West Demerara highway was built it became common for children and adults, unaccustomed to it, to lose their lives while traversing the roadway.  This still prevails.

No lessons have apparently been learnt and we continue to widen roads into highways instead of constructing new ones through less populated areas.

The original roadways in Guyana developed from pathways.  Pathways which served as arteries for villages.  Communities were built up around these and crossing the path to visit a neighbour or sending a child across the path to buy a loaf of bread was as natural as slipping through the fence.  Many of our villagers have not outgrown this sense of community and why should they? To accommodate the steel chariots of the well to do?

There is no shortage of land in Guyana and, with a will to take cognisance of the needs of our people, this practice need not continue.

How many pedestrians are killed on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway?  The communities along that highway were established after its construction and are well off the road. The highway was not constructed through an existing community. 

It is laudatory that pedestrian overpasses have been constructed but how frequently are they spaced and how many can use them?  Very many persons suffer from a real fear of heights and would simply be unable to walk across a suspended bridge with clear sides.  Where is the alternative for them besides taking their chances with the fast moving traffic?

We are predominantly a pedestrian population where the majority do not possess motor vehicles yet we continue to accommodate vehicles at the expense of pedestrians.

This is evident even in the City and its environs where no sidewalks are built and pedestrians use the roadway in competition with fast moving steel.

Surely we can do better. 

Yours faithfully, 

Elizabeth Alleyne 

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