THE ministries of Home Affairs (MoHA) and Public Works (MWH), in collaboration with the Guyana National Road Safety Council (GNRSC), held the National Road Safety Conference 2014 at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, to examine and adopt road safety methodologies, create public awareness, and develop a plan of action resulting from the National Strategy on Road Safety.
The one-day conference was organised yesterday under the theme “Road Safety with Your Life on the Line”. It aimed to achieve its stated objectives by creating a platform for dialogue among national stakeholders.
Four workshop sessions were held to address such issues as the National Road Safety Strategy, Public Awareness, Engineering, and Education. These workshops will provide stakeholders with the opportunity to offer solutions aimed at making our roadways safer.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who represented President Donald Ramotar at the sessions, yesterday delivered the feature address in which he called for no parking on congested roads and streets, since, he said, the situation in the city has become overwhelming.
He told the gathering that the risk of an accident occurring locally is as likely as in any country; and in recognition of this fact, we must be attentive when using the roads and work to reduce occurrences of road accidents and fatalities.
The prime minister said he was pleased to know that the city has been divided into four quadrants; and since we have been advancing in material things, such as the acquisition of more vehicles on the roadways, measures should be implemented to effectively safeguard the population from accidents occurring.
He said drivers should desist from driving when under the influence of alcohol, when texting, or when sleep deprived; because, in such a situation, a series of things can occur, which would ultimately affect us.
The prime minister said he supports the budget for every traffic cop to be equipped with a radar gun and a breathalyzer, and there are several engineering recommendations which should be implemented as well.
He also spoke of the need for overhead passes and for the raising of our infrastructure to more four-lane roads in the city, but he said that for us to do so, everybody would have to make their contribution by paying their taxes.
Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee said that after reviewing the current traffic situation with its concomitant road accidents and fatalities, he is of the view that a national road safety conference was needed for all sections of stakeholders to share and exchange information on the way forward.
He also urged all citizens to remember their civic duty in reporting all road accidents, because we need to act and let defaulters know that “I am sorry” would not “just cut it”. He said it was time we get serious about the traffic situation, since “road safety is everybody’s business”.
Rohee called for rigid police enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, since, he said, it is known that drink-driving, speeding and inattentiveness are the leading causes of road accidents and fatalities. And if that is to be reduced by 2020, Guyana has got to start acting on it now.
Minister Rohee also spoke of the court system, expressing disgust that persons who are charged for causing death by dangerous driving get their their pre-trial liberty and are still able to mix in society.
He said that laws were approved in Parliament for the police to act thereon, thus there is room for improvement in road safety practices. However, he conceded that the police are working assiduously in this regard with campaigns.
Rohee said that with the influx of about 10,000 vehicles on the roads per year, development is evident, but with that development comes challenges, and we have to address those challenges. Accordingly, he said, the national road safety conference was called.
In his remarks, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)/World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow, said that road accidents were said to be the eighth leading cause of death globally, based on a report.
Giving statistics from varying world reports, Dr Adu-Krow outlined the need for implementation of measures to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.
Also making remarks was retired Major General Norman Mc Lean, current Chairman of the GNRSC, who emceed the programme.
During the conference, Alex Graham of Tagman Media and Renaissance Marketing did a soft launching of the one-way street project in Georgetown. He highlighted his presentation by interjecting several friendly television advertisements which will hit the local airwaves and media shortly as the project is rolled out.
Public Works Minister Robeson Benn was also in attendance. He was scheduled to make remarks at the end of the conference yesterday.
By Michel Outridge