In wake of Tuesday’s deadly accident…Friendship residents sign petition to increase road safety

Residents of Friendship during the community meeting on Saturday.

DAYS after a deadly accident on the East Bank Demerara (EBD) corridor claimed the lives of five persons in the vicinity of Friendship, residents there signed a petition to increase road safety in the area.

Dead: Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Sergeant, Leon Tucker

The petition, dubbed ‘Never Again,’ was signed by a number of residents on Saturday during a community meeting. A vigil was also held in memory of the five victims. The victims: Policeman Ronel Barker; Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Sergeant, Leon Tucker; Lovern Stoby, a member of the Special Constabulary and Herbert Josiah and his wife, Denise Josiah were killed when a police car slammed into another car on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 5:30hrs.

Barker, who was driving a Guyana Police Force (GPF) car, was proceeding south along the EBD corridor at the time of the accident. He was in the company of Police Lance Corporal Travis Fullington, who is one of two survivors. Tucker, the GDF Sergeant, was headed in the northern direction on the roadway in his private car (PPP 515) when disaster struck. Stoby, Herbert Josiah and his wife – residents of Friendship – were all occupants of that vehicle along with another woman, who survived the early morning smash-up.

Dead: Presidential Guard Ronel Barker

Denise Murray, a resident Friendship, is among the signatories to the petition. Murray, while applauding President David Granger for establishing a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the deadly accident, said through the petition, residents are hoping to increase road safety in the area. “We are very sad at the continued accident tragedies on the East Bank road and especially in Friendship. The benefits to the families of the deceased and a Commission of Inquiry are all important, but will it stop the next horrendous accident? The answer is NO.

“We have signed the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ petition. We want changes on the roads in Friendship and on the East Bank,” Murray said in a statement on Saturday. Hoping to secure more than 100 signatures, she said the petition will be submitted to the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.

Dead: Denise Josiah and her husband, Herbert Josiah in happier times

According to Murray, urgent actions are needed. She pointed out that only two ‘MPH’ signs are located in Friendship when eight are needed. The residents are also petitioning the Government to lower the speed limit in the area to 40-50mph from 80mph.

Through the petition, they are also calling for increased police presence along the East Bank Demerara corridor on a daily basis. “(There is) no Police outpost between Grove and Timehri…Police outpost needed at mid-point. No jagged/rubberized strips across road in Friendship (as done on the West Demerara road to Parika)…4 strips needed in Friendship,” Murray said.

Hours after last Tuesday’s accident, President Granger ordered a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the tragic accident. In an address to the nation, the Head of State said a thorough investigation would be launched into the accident. “I would like you to know that this shocking event will be thoroughly investigated. In fact, soon after the accident, within two hours, I directed the acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nigel Hoppie to launch an inquiry headed by a person no lower in rank than the Deputy Commissioner, to determine how such an accident could have occurred and also to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence,” President Granger said.

He added: “We will ensure that, if there was any error, any mistake, any wrongdoing… that there will be no further event like this in the history of the Police Force or the Guyana Defence Force.”

Dead: Special Constable Lovern Stoby

President Granger assured too that whatever the cause of the accident, the Government of Guyana, the administration of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force, the Cabinet and the National Security Committee will take every step to ensure that the roads are used safely by all members of the security forces.

He said steps will also be taken to ensure that regulations, Standing Operating Procedures, inspections and the careful selection and training of drivers, are measures which are put in place so as to prevent a recurrence. “The Government and the security forces will ensure that the findings and recommendations of this Commission of Inquiry are fully and rigorously implemented,” the President assured the nation.