Traffic congestion continues to be a major challenge in large and growing metropolitan areas all over the world. And in spite of several efforts being made by Governments and other development partners to remedy the situation, it is more than likely that traffic congestion will become significantly worse in the years to come. Both the economy and school systems require that people work and go to school during the same time resulting in road transport systems being overloaded.
Here in Guyana, traffic congestion in the city and its environs is almost unbearable, especially during morning and evening ‘rush-hour’ traffic. These days, it is normal to spend more than an 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.
Not only is the traffic situation adding to people’s personal frustrations, it is certainly having a negative impact on the level of output of our citizens, both students and workers. For example, production hours are lost by way of employees coming to work late or the fact that they are so tired and stressed the next day after spending long hours either waiting for transportation or stuck in traffic.
The establishment of new housing schemes across the country and the increasing numbers of vehicles being imported have contributed significantly to traffic congestion in and around the capital city. Thousands of persons have now been relocated from the city to suburban and rural areas where they were allocated house lots to build their homes. Most of these persons have to travel back to the city where they work or their children attend school.
Also, many persons are now opting to purchase their own vehicles. They use these vehicles to commute to work and conduct their daily errands. In fact, within the last seven years or so, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of vehicles traversing our roads. However, the road network expansion programme, even though improving, still cannot accommodate this massive increase in the number of vehicles using our roads.
Traffic congestion cannot be eliminated completely; it is the way modern societies operate. However, there are certain steps which could be taken to immediately minimise the impact traffic congestion has on citizens and their ability to get to their destination with minimal delays. For example, the authorities could work to ensure that there is more Police presence in certain areas to properly direct traffic in order to ensure a smooth flow. In some areas leading in and out of the city, there is hardly any Police presence and some motorists use the opportunity to break the rules. There could also be more diversions where there is heavy traffic build-up.
As a long-term solution, an effective way to address the challenge is to continue expanding the road network in the country, especially in areas that are heavily populated. At present, there are too many vehicles, too few roads, and too little space, especially in the capital city. There is no doubt that once completed, the East Bank/East Coast road expansion project will bring much relief to the travelling public. It is expected that the new roadway will serve as a corridor for communities on the East Bank of Demerara, including Perseverance, Mocha, Providence, Eccles, and Peter’s Hall as well as 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.
The authorities must continue to look at ways in which the road network in Guyana could be further expanded, improved, rehabilitated and maintained. In addition to easing traffic congestion, this could result in a reduction of the large number of road fatalities in the country.