Horrific road accidents: Strengthening laws not enough; education, public awareness needed – Attorney General

Following Monday night’s horrific accident that left three persons dead, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has lashed out against errant road users who contribute to the carnage on Guyana’s roadways.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall

AG Anil Nandlall made these remarks during his weekly programme, Issues In The News, which was broadcasted and streamed live on Tuesday evening.
He posited that something has to be done to curb the high number of unnecessary deaths on Guyana’s roadways. While hinting at the possibility of strengthening the laws, Nandlall contended that behavioural change is what is needed to curb the high incidents of road fatalities in the country.
“We can’t continue to waste the lives of our people in this callous and negligent manner. We can strengthen laws, and we may move in that direction and bring greater regulatory framework in place, but it requires much more than that; the laws can only achieve results to a certain extent. It has to do with our culture, it has to do with our behaviour, it has to do with our mentality, it has to do a lot with education and public awareness,” the AG contended.

Damages to the shop into which the car crashed

According to Nandlall, a comprehensive comparative analysis could possibly place Guyana with a record of one of the highest traffic accident rates per capita in the Caribbean region. To this end, Nandlall suggested a countrywide approach to reduce the “alarming killing rate” on the roads. He opined that an exercise similar to the ongoing clean-up campaign across the country could be carried out to educate and bring awareness among all road users.
“Perhaps we need a similar type initiative directed towards using our roadways in a safer manner, so that we can begin the process of at least reducing this alarming killing rate that seems to be taking place on the roadways of our country. We simply can’t continue with this wasteful carnage of human life. This right here is a human rights tragedy, and this is one area that knows no discrimination; it permeates the entire network of our country.
“So, this is something we have to speak more about, and perhaps at the level of the Government we need to do more. But I don’t think this is the responsibility of the Government alone. This is the duty and responsibility of every single citizen, because it would appear as though no one is safe,” the Attorney General has asserted.

Horrific fatal accident
AG Nandlall’s statement comes on the heels of a horrific fatal accident that occurred on Monday night. It saw a speeding car being driven by an 18-year-old crashing into a bar on the De Willem Public Road, West Coast Demerara, and immediately killing three persons who were drinking outside the establishment.
Dead are: 22-year-old Carlito Gobin of De Willem, WCD; 46-year-old Kiran Rampersaud of Zeeburg, WCD; and 44-year-old Ayube Mohamed of Meten-Meer-Zorg, WCD. The latter two deceased were fishermen.
Already, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn has condemned the reckless behaviour of the young driver, who was reportedly racing with another car driver when he lost control of his vehicle and it slammed into the three deceased, who were bystanders outside of the Sharmilla Harikissoon Sports Bar. In addition to the three deceased, two other persons were struck down during the incident, and they are currently being treated for their injuries.
The teen driver also received injuries about his body, and is currently receiving medical attention under Police guard.
The Home Affairs Minister has pointed out that Guyana had a “successful year” in 2021 as it relates to road fatalities, with a 29% reduction. But based on the statistics so far this year, he said, “we appear to already be in trouble at the rate we’re going”.
Only a few days ago, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill issued a statement that also expressed concern at the alarming rate of road fatalities for the year.
For the year 2021, 99 persons were killed on the roads, compared to 139 persons for 2020. The 2021 results showed a 29% reduction when compared to 2020.
Comparative data has shown that, as at March 3, 2022, 15 persons were killed on the roadways as a result of 14 accidents, compared with the same period for 2021, when 20 persons died from 19 accidents.
“What is significantly alarming is that, in 2021, 14 of the 20 persons killed at that period were the most vulnerable classes of road users (two pedal cyclists, eight motor cyclists and four pedestrians). While at March 3, 2022, of the 15 killed, the vulnerable classes accounted for seven (two pedal cyclists, three motor cyclists, two pedestrians),” Minister Edghill has said.
The Public Works Minister had noted, too, that he and his Cabinet colleagues would relook at the current laws and examine ways in which they could ensure “stricter controls, be it the training/re-training of drivers/riders, higher fines or stiffer penalties, and a studied approach for the introduction of a demerit system.” (G8)