Road carnage is “not a political issue” – Opposition Leader
With the significant increase in deaths on Guyana’s roadways in recent time, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo stated that the situation is not a political one in nature and recommended that all stakeholders should contribute towards finding a comprehensive solution.
For the month of November, 21 persons, including three children, died from road accidents. A closer review showed that for last week, 12 persons lost their lives in a matter of 7 accidents and the fatalities have continued into this week. As such, the Opposition Leader stated during his press conference on Thursday that an integrated approach is needed to effectively bring this number down.
“This is not a political issue. We have to work… everyone on this matter – Government, Opposition etc. There is carnage on our roads and we have to find a way of stopping it. We don’t have all the answers and I’m sure they don’t too,” he positioned.
He also asserted that those culpable must take responsibility for their actions. Meanwhile, Jagdeo clarified that if any political party promises to lower these statistics, it is untrue since a collective approach is required.
“It’s a combination of education, strong regulations, taking tough actions and people have to take responsibility too. People have to take personal responsibility for these issues because sometimes, you have one crazy person. Any [political] party that says to you that they can stop this will be lying to you,” he expressed.
His comments come in light of President David Granger’s response to the increased carnage, outlining a three-point approach for road safety. Road users were urged to observe the Guyana Police Force’s code of behaviour.
The caretaker president further pointed out that the “insane increase in road fatalities” was due to persons driving at excessive speeds, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without due care and attention and driving on roads which are congested or unsafe for other road users, particularly pedestrians.
On another trending topic, the Opposition Leader pointed out the alarming rate at which students are involved in violence at their respective schools. This, he noted, is also another non-political matter which should not be addressed by draconian measures.
Earlier this week, the Education Ministry put a ban on the annual Christmas parties for public schools and replaced them with a luncheon. However, Jagdeo posited that this is not the correct approach. Former Education Minister Priya Manickchand also condemned this decision by the Ministry, stating that it is a form of social development.
“School violence is another one of those issues that we should not politicise too much. These are our kids. We have to find a way, not draconian measures like taking away their parties but finding a way of ensuring that these activities are done in a manner that they’re set up for,” the Opposition Leader identified.
The issue of violence in schools, especially at the secondary level, became more evident in recent time with students turning to violence against each other.
Commenting on one of the incidents was Education Minister Nicolette Henry, who came under immediate backlash for saying that these incidents are “normal” in schools countrywide.
She was asked to respond to a video on social media, which showed a male student of the Richard Ishmael Secondary School hitting a female schoolmate continuously while pinning her to the ground in the school’s compound.
But Henry was quoted as saying, “Well usually students fight. It’s nothing unusual as you would know, you’ve gone to school yourselves and we all would’ve seen…so those would have to be addressed by the welfare department. There’s a standing operating procedure and they will effect that procedure, and they have already begun the process they will address that”.
In a separate incident at the Mon Repos Primary School, an eight-year-old Richard Boodram and six-year-old Fawaz Asgar were attacked by their classmates.
Boodram was hospitalised for several days after being hit to his head, while Asgar ssuffered a slashed hand. In October 2019, a female student in Berbice was badly beaten and her hijab ripped off by other students.
In another incident, a student who attended the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI), also in Berbice, was viciously attacked by a group of other students, who were beating him with a belt.