Road safety diagnostic and action plan launched to promote safer roadways

In an effort to promote and enhance safety on Guyana’s roadways, the government on Friday launched the road safety diagnostic and action plan, at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown.

The initiative, which has been in the pipeline for years, forms part of the Adequate Housing and Urban Transport Programme (AHUTP), which is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The consultancy, which has been undertaken by IT Transports Ltd in collaboration with SRKN’gineering, will last for six months, after which the implementation phase will begin.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn said emphasis must be placed on persons having consideration for each other on the roadways and emphasised that administrators need to be stern in addressing the issue of road safety.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn

 “We can’t do this job with a limp wrist, we have to be stronger in the way we deal with the issues of enforcement, we have to be stronger with how we respond to the risks that are on the roads, the quality of roads and bridges, the questions of congestion in the city and on the roadways, as well as the casual lawbreaking in our country on the use of the roads,” Minister Benn lamented.  

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill said that in promoting road safety, Guyanese must develop a culture of caution.

This means that in every aspect of life, people should exercise consideration for each other and utilise best practices to reduce the risk of accidents.  

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill

“We still have men casting concrete in slippers, electricians climbing poles without safety belts, and people working on roadways without safety belts that are properly illuminated. We can’t just talk about what’s happening on the roads when we talk about behavioural change. We need to have a new culture of safety, and not just safety on our roads. We have to have a new look at life, and start valuing what is important,” Minister Edghill pointed out.

The public works minister said continuous education should also be considered in enforcing road safety regulations.

“Our problem with road safety is people, and we have to engage people to solve this problem. It can’t just be with signs and stickers. Somewhere along the way we have to engage them and say…in order for you to operate your minibus as a form of public transportation, you have to come in every two years, sit in a classroom and go through a refresher, especially if you have been in accidents,” he said.

The minister added that an aggressive approach to bringing awareness to this issue must be taken alongside regulative and punitive action.

Meanwhile, the action plan will be based on a safe systems approach to road safety. The approach puts the human being at its centre and stems from the belief that every road death or serious injury is preventable.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Works, Vladim Persaud; Traffic/Safety/Maintenance Manager, Ministry of Public Works, Kester Hinds; IDB Procurement Specialist, Patricia Yamilee Payen, and  Legal Consultant Nigel Hawke were among those present at the ceremony.