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Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Home Features Road safety and pathway progress

Road safety and pathway progress

I told you that I once sat on a “PUP” committee with the famous Mr. Torres, for all of two weeks – I don’t know if I should be proud for being placed on a committee, or I should feel like I was being tek for papisho, they putting me on a committee two weeks before a general election – but anyway, I was on a committee, a traffic safety committee, and I was glad to get in my two cents. Mr. Torres and I were of equal low rank on that committee, but since then he has become rather famous, for his talk show presence and for his persistent efforts to acquire an independent seat on the Belize City Council.

I think we can put less emphasis on the traffic story because that is mainly about fender benders and parking tickets; road safety absolutely cannot be ignored because any failure results in an enormous cost in lives and limbs and equipment and insurance. Point blank, I don’t have a soft spot for drunks or speed merchants. Our country can’t afford either, and more than ever we need to clamp down on these fiends on our highways.

How many times it has to be said that drivers of 4-wheel vehicles have to drive with especial care on our highways because these are two-lane, and are also used by motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and horses. Look, it is what it is — a one-lane bridge can’t handle vehicles coming from opposite directions at the same time.

Last week we had three fatal accidents, and a number of people suffered serious injuries. Mr. Albert J. Ciego, in the story “85 persons died in traffic accidents in 2019”, published in the Amandala in February 2020, said that there were 103 road accidents in 2019, 85 of them fatal. Mr. Ciego wrote:

“According to the Ministry of Health and the Police Department, of the 85 persons who died, three persons fell out of vehicles, seven persons were killed in head-on collisions, 18 persons were killed while riding bicycles, 7 persons were killed in motorcycle collisions, 16 persons were pedestrians who were knocked down, and also, 10 persons were killed when their vehicles slammed into stationary objects.

“One person jumped out of a vehicle and died, seven persons died in overturned vehicles, 2 persons were killed when the vehicles in which they were traveling were hit from the rear, 7 were killed in vehicles that ran off the road, 3 died in side-on collisions, and 4 were killed in unspecified collisions.”

Raatid, 18 cyclists and 16 pedestrians killed by vehicles in 2019! That’s incredible and intolerable!

I did expect that there were more than seven motorcyclists who died in road accidents. It does seem that there’s a motorcycle in every other RTA in Belize, and maybe it is that there were a lot of such accidents, but many of the riders survived when they crashed.

Motor bike safety is critically important, because motorized cycles are very efficient on fuel and they aren’t that costly to purchase and maintain, so they will increasingly become the mode of transportation for our people. A special effort must be made to make our highways safe, so that horrific motorcycle accidents decrease.

Sometime back I had called for the Traffic Department to give a safety lecture to all motorcyclists who come in to license their bikes, or renew their permit in order to get the privilege to use our highways. I haven’t followed up to find out if they took my advice, but I doubt they did, because if they had, I am pretty sure I would have heard. I gave some tips, but maybe my ten plus years of riding sin accidente does not qualify me as an expert rider. Well, there are Chinese and India Indians here who must have the credentials. Motorbikes are always prominent when you see pictures of streets in China and India.

Reducing the horrific homicides in a major way is difficult at this time because of the incredibly weak justice system, the drug trade, and the terrible despondency and deprived state of young men in the inner cities, but senseless accidents on the road we can stop. Of course there will be accidents, anyone can get into an accident, but we can stop people who seem to be looking to cause one.

It tears at my insides to say bad things to people, but you know how it is with what has to be said. I had some rather harsh things to say about the minds of big bikers who race through small villages, but I have enough trouble on my hands today. Let me just say to the authorities that motorbikes tempt people to du fool, and if you gave a daam you would keep a closer eye on them.

It was said that a head-on motorcycle crash that resulted in two fatalities was the result of a dare. The two young men raced at each other and the game was to see who would blink first, and no one did. You know, they say that people who knew poverty shouldn’t be so mean if they get a break, but it seems that a lot of people have short memories. I don’t know if sadists proliferate in our country, but adults must know that youth must be protected from themselves, or are all the adults in leadership positions in our country productos de vidas cloistered?

Sober leaders try to protect their young people from themselves. It’s in the nature of the young fu du foolish and crazy things.

In primary school we are all taught that a stitch in time saves nine, and a little bit of tar stopped the ship from sinking when it went to sea. You turn a blind eye to young people doing crazy or disrespectful things, and other young people, like moths drawn to a flame, will also do the same. These big people know these things, so why don’t they step up and put the clamp on reckless riding and driving?

Rich countries can afford nonsense. In rich countries they are now repairing every ligament, limb and organ in the human body, and it is paid for by their system. We are not in that category. We can’t afford to encourage fool.

I saved the best, our pathway, for last. Big congratulations to my area rep, Mr. Julius Espat, for the excellent work being done to deliver on a pathway from end to end of the village where I live. I understand that a number of other villages along the highway are in line for pathways too, and that is just good news pahn top a good news.

Now, children in the villages can travel to and from school, safely, and people can go visiting their neighbors down the road, safely, and when you get drunk you can stumble home on a pathway, safely, just like our fellow brother and sister Belizeans who live in urban areas. The pathways are a big step in the right direction.

The cost of accidents is huge. Apart from loss of life and serious injury or loss of limbs, and loss of equipment, accidents drive up the cost of insurance, and it drains the SSB funds and strains the staff at our public hospitals.

Accidents will happen, people will make mistakes, equipment will fail, and we need vigilance on the highways to keep them at a minimum. The traffic police must start behaving like vigilantes. Pull in a couple bad eggs and haul them off to the station. Who will get the sense from a tambran whip, mek dehn drop dehn pants, and who prefer to sleep behind bars, give them a night in a cell.

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