Road Safety Workshop 2017, held by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, in collaboration with the International Road Federation
Ministry of Public Infrastructure
Our Ref: Oranapai Towers Wight’s Lane Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana.
(April 19, 2017)
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure, in collaboration with the International Road Federation (IRF), today (April 19, 2017) kicked off its two-day 2017 Road Safety Workshop, the first of its kind to be held in Guyana.
Present at today’s workshop were stakeholders from different bodies, including the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana National Road Safety Council. The two-day workshop aims to bring together relevant stakeholders to address the road safety issues in Guyana, particularly in the area of infrastructure.
The workshop was officially launched by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Annette Ferguson, who emphasised the importance of dialogue and expressed her pleasure at having the Ministry collaborate with the IRF.
“Today’s road safety workshop is primarily geared towards the transferring of knowledge and skills that would enable the participants to accurately diagnose safety issues associated with vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists,” Minister Ferguson said.
She further highlighted the steps taken by the Government of Guyana to curb road accidents and the steps that will be taken in the near future to further improve Guyana’s response to road safety. Among these steps, she said, are massive road rehabilitative works which are designed to incorporate safety mechanisms geared towards improving the safety of all road users.
Specifically at the Infrastructure Ministry, efforts have been made to address risk factors such as speeding, and the Ministry has taken actions such as the placement of more road signage; increased road markings; construction of sidewalks; installation of raised pavement markers; the installation of streetlights and traffic lights; and placement of speed humps. She said too that the Ministry is in the process of developing an overpass bridge to improve the safety of pedestrians on highways.
However, she said, the Government can only do so much and there is also a need for a change in the culture of road users. “Drivers need to take more responsibility for the safety of their passengers and themselves…Road users need to think of safety first,” she said, before adding that the goal is to have Guyana’s road safety move to an international standard.
A part of this goal is the implementation of laws and regulations. “In the future, it is anticipated that additional laws and regulations will be enacted, along with measures including a well-resourced road safety council; penalty point system for errant and recalcitrant drivers; seatbelt use for occupants in the rear seats; and the introduction of speed or safety cameras. These will contribute to positive changes in road user behaviour, thus causing a reduction in road fatalities,” Minister Ferguson said.
Minister Ferguson’s words were echoed by IRF’s Latin America & Caribbean Manager, Mr. Esteban Salinas, who also called for a change in road culture. Nonetheless, he applauded Guyana for its efforts in taking road safety seriously, as demonstrated by its active National Road Safety Council and the significant presence of police officers at today’s workshop.
“This [workshop] is long overdue; it’s something we’ve been trying to work out for the last couple of years and we are thrilled and honoured to be here with you. We hope it’s going to be the first of many times we will be collaborating,” he said. Mr. Salinas was accompanied by IRF’s Executive Vice-President, Mr. Michael Dreznes, who was also the facilitator for a number of today’s presentations and the keynote speaker.
Mr. Salinas subsequently presented an IRF Membership Certificate to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, which was received by Minister Ferguson.
He thanked the Ministry for working along with the IRF and expressed his hope for future collaborations.
The rest of the day’s workshop featured a number of presentations and interactive sessions, including strategies for road safety employed in the Caribbean and a sneak peek of the Guyana National Road Safety Council Action Plan, which will be officially launched on May 3. An overview of Guyana’s road safety situation, which highlighted the most vulnerable classes and the US$13.2M burden accidents have on Guyana’s economy, was also presented.
The workshop will continue tomorrow, April 20, 2017, at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.