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ACTION TIME!
** NO SPEEDING
** NO ‘BOOM BOOM’
** NO TINT
** NO OVERLOAD

ACTION PLAN: acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene, centre, and other officers at yesterday’s media briefing.
By Mark Ramotar
THE Police Force yesterday announced ‘zero tolerance’ for several factors blamed for mounting road deaths and traffic lawlessness.

Among measures acting Police Commissioner Mr. Henry Greene announced to the media at police headquarters in Georgetown are zero tolerance for:

** Speeding
** ‘Boom Boom’ (music) boxes
** Tint
** Overload
** Breach traffic lights
** Unlit motor vehicles
** Stopping within 30 feet from the corner

** Stopping on ‘No Parking’ signs

Greene also announced that from November 1 (tickets) fines for traffic offences will increase from the current $150 to between $5,000 and $7,000.

&As soon as we get those (new ticket) books we hope to implement this system so that the ticket system can begin to operate effectively”, he said.

He is also optimistic that two of the major pieces of traffic legislation before the Attorney General’s Chamber -- breathalyzer tests and banning the use of cell phones by persons when driving – will be finalized and implemented shortly.

&We intend to take drastic measures (and) once these offences are detected, we will take drastic measures to ensure that those concerns are properly and condignly dealt with and placed before the courts,” Greene declared.

If we have to inconvenience persons who sit in a bus that’s overloaded and allow it, we will do it because we think it is time for action.”

&No privilege will be granted to any owner – whether public officials, whether the police or who, the bus or the hire car will be treated in the same manner as all other vehicles that are on the road…and which belong to ordinary persons.”

OTHER MEASURES
Greene also announced the implementation of a “coastal traffic patrol” (highway patrols) already in place at some junctions, but which will be greatly expanded and intensified.

&We will now have coastal traffic patrols from Linden right on to Berbice, and also from the Harbour Bridge throughout West Demerara.”

In addition to this, Greene said the police will be publishing the photographs of errant vehicles in the media.

A thorough re-examination will be undertaken of all mini-bus and hire car drivers within the next three months, through licensing and certifying officers, the commissioner reported.

He said this exercise is expected to be concluded within the next three months.

Greene hinted at several other “covert measures” to be implemented to stamp out traffic lawlessness.

One recommendation to be implemented shortly, he said, is that those learning to drive must pass the theoretical exams before they are issued with a provisional licence.

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) has also been contacted, and will be coordinating more with the Customs department to ensure that proper tyres are allowed into the country, and that bicycles are sold with headlights and bulbs, he said.

He further announced that mini-bus routes for Georgetown are “being reworked” and new routes implemented by November 1.

These revised routes, he explained, will be placed on road-service licences and drivers who do not comply with them will be charged appropriately.

&We are also looking at a separate colour code and routes for buses that are plying Sophia,” he announced.

According to him, there is a new set of buses that are operating and based in Sophia, and the Police Force is recommending to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the implementation of a colour code for these buses plying the Sophia routes. He is optimistic this can be implemented during next month.

Greene said the Police Force is discussing and looking at measures to ease traffic congestion along Regent Street and at bus and car parks in the city, with the possible creation of new parks where necessary.

He is also appealing to ‘doctors’ to support the Police Force in cases of drinking and drunken drivers.

&Ever so often we have problems because doctors had to go to court (to give evidence) but we are asking for their support until legislation can be created whereby the certificate issued will be accepted in court.”

In relation to corruption, and policemen taking bribes, Greene said these can only be dealt with based on reports from the public.

&Whenever you give money to a policeman, you are encouraging corruption,” he noted.

He said the traffic campaign will also entail publishing photographs of all persons who have been disqualified or suspended from driving.

&We have asked the office of the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) that in all cases where they have advised that persons be charged for causing death by dangerous driving, they also recommend to the Ministry of Home Affairs that their licences be suspended.”

Greene reminded that persons can call the Traffic Hotline numbers -- 227-2309 or 225-6411.

He announced too that a meeting is planned for Sunday at the Police Sports Club Ground in Georgetown with all drivers and conductors of mini-buses and hire cars.

At that meeting we intend to talk to them and also hear their concerns in relation to what is happening on the roads,” he said.

STOP THE SQUEEZE
Greene yesterday also reiterated a call to drivers and commuters to “act responsibly” and “slow down” when using the roadways.

He also lamented the mini-bus culture of persons asking for a “squeeze”.

“Stop the squeeze, this is a big thing in buses where people keep asking for a squeeze; we have to stop the squeeze because when the buses become overloaded, (they) can get out of control and this is breaching the law.”

&So please assist us to ask conductors, drivers and commuters to stop the squeeze -- it may save their lives…,” Greene urged members of the media.

He also stressed that once the Police receive any report of “speeding, drunken driving and threats or the actual eviction of commuters from buses and vehicles because they raise objections”, those found culpable will be dealt with condignly.

The launch of the major traffic campaign comes in the wake of three horrific road accidents which left 24 persons dead in the last two weeks.

It also came on the heels of calls on Tuesday for an urgent all out and sustained countrywide campaign to stop traffic lawlessness and curb the spiralling road carnage.

Among steps proposed at a meeting Tuesday called by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee in the wake of the mounting deaths on the roads were:

** More radar guns on the roads
** Consider banning the mini-bus as public transportation
** Remove stands selling alcoholic beverages at bus parks, pavements
** Make speeding and reckless driving non-bailable offences
** Reduce the tariff on tyres to avoid importation of used tyres

Mr. Rohee assured the proposals will be considered, further discussed and said those agreed on will be urgently implemented where necessary by the Police Force.

Thursday, October 25, 2007