Drivers charged with dangerous driving will be disqualified -Minister Ramjattan
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan is calling for more stringent action to be taken against reckless drivers. The call was made at the launch of Guyana’s National Road Safety Action Plan 2017-2019 under the theme “Time for results: Together we can save lives” at the Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, today (Wednesday, May 03, 2017).
The Action Plan complements the National Road Safety Strategy, 2013-2020, to help Guyana reach the United Nation’s Decade of an action plan of having 50 percent reduction in road deaths by 2020.
However, Minister Ramjattan pointed out that aside from what is set out in the Action Plan, there is a need for more legal amendments as it relates to causing death by dangerous driving, by disqualifying those persons from driving.
According to the Minister, he has already started the process of having the licences of persons who are charged with dangerous driving suspended. Minister Ramjattan explained that “we do a period of suspension and that will have an effect, I am absolutely certain, and I want the press to make that public, that the policy now is once you are charged with dangerous driving, you will be disqualified.”
However, the Minister pointed out that his powers end when the matter passes through the court and is urging magistrates and judges to follow suit. “The power that I have is only prior to sentence being passed, that I can disqualify and suspend, not after. The magistrate or judge ought to have that power, and they should utilise that power in very bad cases,” the Minister stated.
Minister Ramjattan also noted that many times death by dangerous driving is caused, not only by the carelessness of drivers but also passengers and pedestrians. “We are the ones at fault,” the Minister noted, pointing out that, “If we, as a result, start also, notwithstanding all the pillars that we are going to implement, doing better at the individual responsible area, we are going to go a far way in reaching that 50 percent reduction.”
Also present at the launch of the Action Plan was Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson. Minister Patterson outlined the role his Ministry will be playing to ensure the roads are safer. These include ensuring there is adequate traffic signs, road markings, construction of sidewalks, and installation of street lights, traffic lights and speed humps. The Minister also pointed out that the construction of the overhead pedestrian crossings will be completed by the end of the year.
Minister Patterson urged stakeholders to effectively execute the mandate of the action plan. “I urge you not to let this action plan become another stack of printed pages… I also hope that the action addresses not only accident and reducing them, but also gives consideration to safety and wellbeing of our people.”
Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan noted that human resource is the most valuable to any country. The Minister said that while road
users must demonstrate greater responsibility when using the roadways; traffic officers must vigorously enforce the traffic laws.
“Improvement in the enforcement of our traffic laws will act as deterrent to the careless and reckless useless and reckless use of our road ways, Minister Bulkan stated.
Chief Traffic Officer, Dion Moore during his presentation pointed out that from the period January 1 to April 30, 2017, there has been 35 fatal accidents and 38 deaths compared to 44 fatal accidents and 45 deaths in 2017. Moore noted that the figures represent a 17 percent decrease in fatal accidents and 14 percent decrease in deaths.
However, the Traffic Chief said that the figures are not acceptable and emphasise that there is a need for 50 percent reduction in accidents by the year 2020. The Traffic Chief stressed that road safety is not the job of the police or Minister, but rather it is the responsibility of everyone.
“Road safety is about us; it is what we do. We must acknowledge the importance of safety,” Moore stressed.