Things will get worse on our roads unless…
May 13, 2017 , http://www.kaieteurnewsonline....on-our-roads-unless/
The traffic jam which occurred on Thursday last on the East Coast of Demerara is as a result of the large number of vehicles which are now using the country’s road transportation system. Almost every household in Guyana now owns a car, and some own more than one.
Guyana’s roads were not built for this amount of traffic. Congestion is the logical outcome. Since it would be suicidal for any government to ban or restrict the importation of motor vehicles, the only solution to the high vehicle ownership in Guyana is to improve the country’s road network system.
The government, however, is backpedaling on this issue. It is redirecting a loan for the improvement of the country’s road network towards housing. The government cannot be blamed for the problems which were encountered with the original loan. This was as a result of the actions of the former government. But the redirection of the loan does indicate that there is not the same degree of priority being given towards developing the country’s road transportation network.
A number of transportation studies have been done. Guyana needs to be expanding its road network rather than building new housing schemes, which will only congest the existing road networks. But the government is between a rock and a hard place. Its supporters are demanding house lots, and it wants to provide them with house lots and even houses.
In the meantime, the road networks are being jammed with traffic, especially during peak hours. The government therefore has to be more strategic or else it will soon end up with the same situation as it did on Thursday without having to close any main roads.
If the vehicle ownership continues at the present rate, people may have to leave their homes at 5 o’clock in the morning just to make a five-mile commute to Georgetown to get to work. Already persons have to leave areas such as the new Diamond Housing Scheme and Tuschen very early in order to beat the work-hour rush.
There is already a situation in which traffic is being snarled, and this will get worse unless the road networks in Guyana are expanded.
The government may be disinclined to spend money to expand the road network. It may feel that the political returns will be higher with housing than roads. But anyone who was in that long, winding line last Thursday on the railway embankment would not agree.
There are, of course, less expensive solutions. One of which is for the government to encourage transit parking lots where people can enjoy secure parking, and from which they can take a shuttle to the city.
The second option is to improve river transportation of passengers. Right now the Stabroek-Vreed-en-Hoop crossing is overcrowded because of the amount of people. A larger, faster vessel, which can shuttle five hundred persons at any one time, will make a big dent in this problem.
The third option is to increase the fees for private cars to cross the Demerara Harbour Bridge during the hours of 7 am to 9 am. This will cause discomfort for many, but it can also force many people to use public transport, providing they can have secure parking near to the bridge, so that they can pick up their vehicles at the end of the day and drive home.
Instead of building new roads, the government can perhaps think about introducing a small passenger rail service that would move only passengers between Diamond and Georgetown.
The government may have better options, but as the snafu of last Thursday indicated, it cannot delay the implementation of these options.