The Delegation of the European Union to Guyana on Monday evening launched its road safety initiative by donating armband safety reflectors to school children who traverse the roadways at night.
Speaking at a small ceremony at the Kitty Roundabout, Georgetown, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Guyana Dr. Fernando Ponz Cantó said that 17,000 of the bands will be distributed to schoolchildren countrywide.
He shared that through the “little but significant” contribution of the bands which reflect light in the dark, the delegation aims to play a role in reducing road fatalities in Guyana.
Sharing brief remarks, Chairman of the National Road Safety Council, Earl Lambert, lauded the initiative, noting that the council has been calling for stakeholders to get involved to help minimise the number of road fatalities.
Lambert explained that “lawlessness on the road” must be addressed, noting that persons are quick to blame the government for road fatalities but often fail to cast blame on motorists who use the road carelessly.
“I’m hoping that with the distribution of these armbands that motorists will observe especially the young people walking late afternoon going home because every life is important,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, highlighted that often people would call on the ministry to implement various classes in schools to tackle issues like road safety but she noted that schools alone cannot fix the problem.
“I wonder every single time I hear the ministry should do this, where are we accepting responsibility ourselves for imparting good behaviour, good conduct, good civic expectations of our children?” the Education Minister asked.
She highlighted that traditionally, parents and members of the community took a stronger role in educating children on issues such as how to use the road, how to speak to elders and how to conduct oneself.
“What I think is more significant is everybody playing their role in a very important issue,” Manickchand said while commending the initiative by the EU to offer tangible support aimed at tackling the issue.
She highlighted that citizens cannot speak of a modern Guyana with first-class infrastructure and not look internally at themselves, their families and communities to see what is needed to align themselves with a developed nation.
“Poor road usage is not compatible with expanding roads, smoother roads and more roads,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn expressed satisfaction with the intervention and called on national partners such as insurance companies to implement measures to also assist with tackling road fatalities.
For the first time in 16 years, in 2021 road deaths were under 100, Benn disclosed, something he credited to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown which caused fewer vehicles to traverse the roadways.
He called on the Guyana Police Force to maintain the statistics, sharing that the government’s anxiety has been heightened recently by the recent numbers of road fatalities per month.