The traffic congestion on our roads, especially in and around the capital city and other commercial areas at present, is at the point where it is becoming almost unbearable for citizens. It is still the early days into the Christmas season and, already, there is a build-up of traffic in major commercial and other areas; one could only imagine what the situation would be as we head closer to Christmas Eve where persons will be traversing to and from the city to do holiday shopping etc.
Even when we are out of the holiday season, the traffic congestion during rush hours in the mornings and evenings is also very stressful for citizens to cope with, especially those commuting to and from the City. It is normal to spend more than a half-hour in the traffic when going or coming from work or school, especially in areas along the East Bank and East Coast corridors where there is a huge build-up of traffic almost daily.
The situation at the Demerara Harbour Bridge is even worse. In addition to the bridge no longer being adequate to accommodate the large volume of traffic on a daily basis, many have complained that the traffic is badly managed by ranks. During rush hours, there is bumper to bumper traffic with some drivers bullying their way through and the Police stationed there seem helpless.
Certainly, within the last five years or so, traffic congestion in the city and other main thoroughfares has gotten worse, and there could be a number of factors responsible for this. What we have noticed is that although there has been some improvement to the road network over the years, it has not been to the level that is needed to match the demands of road users. For example, within the last fifteen years or so, several new housing schemes were established and several existing ones were expanded across the country resulting in many more persons commuting to and from the capital city where they go to school or work.
Also, many more persons are opting to purchase their own vehicles, resulting in thousands of new vehicles traversing our roads. So within the last ten years or so, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of vehicles driving on the roads; however, the road network expansion programme, even though improving, still cannot accommodate this massive increase.
That said, traffic congestion is not a problem that is unique to Guyana and certainly cannot be totally eliminated. However, there are ways in which the authorities here could work together to manage the situation more effectively resulting in less hassle for road users. For example, the authorities could seek to ensure that there is more Police presence in certain areas so that there can be a smooth flow of traffic as drivers are known to break the rules and bully their way when there is no Police presence. The authorities could also designate more routes for traffic diversions, especially during rush hours and in areas where there is a heavy traffic build-up.
However, these are just short-term solutions. A long-term solution would be to continue looking at ways in which the country’s road network could be expanded, especially in areas that are heavily populated. The East Bank and East Coast road expansion projects, once completed, will bring much relief to the travelling public. The new roadway will serve as a corridor for communities on the East Bank of Demerara, including Perseverance, Mocha, Providence, Eccles, Peter’s Hall and Aubrey Barker Road. Instead of going through the hectic Georgetown traffic, the new road link will allow drivers the option to divert from the East Coast and onto the bypass road to access the East Bank of Demerara.
We urge the authorities to continue to look at ways in which the road network in Guyana could be further expanded, improved, rehabilitated and maintained. In addition to bringing great relief to citizens’ frustrations, it would help to reduce the number of road fatalities that have reached alarming levels in the country.