The Christmas season at its peak has resulted in many traffic congestions along the West Demerara Public Road, with lines extending hundreds of metres.On Thursday, several motorists and taxi operators called for better traffic management, especially at the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) and Vreed-en-Hoop junction in the early hours of the day.The line extending beyond Plantain Walk to reach the junctionOne driver told Guyana Times that he spent 35 minutes from Goed Fortuin to the DHB junction, which, in normal circumstances, would have taken just over 10 minutes.This is due to motorists boycotting the lines to use the sidewalk, coupled with an increase in holiday shoppers crowding the streets. However, he believes the situation can be less stressful with intervention from the Guyana Police Force.Joseph Montgomery explained, “Everybody using the same line to come to the junction. Some choose to use the parapet and drive like they crazy until they reach the front while other people still waiting at the back. How is that fair? Tell me”.According to him, those boycotting the legal barrier to use the “fast way” are causing danger to the lives of other road users. It was indicated that on some occasions, Police Officers are stationed to ensure uniformed traffic flow. However, in many scenarios, the junction is left unsupervised, allowing drivers to break the law.Meanwhile, this publication spoke to a taxi driver who insisted that he is losing money from the increased time for one drop.“I wasting more time and gas. Sometimes you waiting in the line with two people. That’s just $200 for one spin for a whole half an hour. It ain’t make sense. Most people staying home cause we ain’t making anything much,” he insisted.On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Leslie James addressed traffic and carnage on the roadways, stating that motorists must develop better attitudes. He said that road users need to change their attitude for there to be a significant reduction in minor, serious and fatal accidents.“We would like to see a change in the attitude of motorists and the way in which they use our roads and they would have heard statements made by the Traffic Chief in that regard, speaking directly to persons who are using the road, who decide on occasion the way in which they would drive or the way in which they would use the road resulting in serious fatalities…It’s almost as if they’re flouting the law,” he cautioned.Since last Sunday, the Force employed a new operation to decreased these numbers and make the roads safer, especially during the holiday season. James said more human resources will be put aside for this until there is a positive change.“We are out there in numbers…We sat and strategized after which we commenced an operation referred to as ‘Operation Safe Roads’…We’ve been doing what we have to do. We’ll continue to do what we have to do. We have increased numbers now following this operation that commenced on Sunday and this will continue until we see a change in the attitude of those using the road,” the Top Cop had stressed.
Most of Kwakwani, in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice), continues to be under floodwater, started over the weekend because of heavy rainfall. In some areas, water is as high as six feet, with very little signs of it receding soon, according to residents.Another section of the community under waterLamp Island and the Waterfront are the most severely affected areas, but acting Director of the Guyana Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Major Kester Craig, has said there is no need for emergency shelters to be set up at this time.Craig told this publication that a team from the Public Health Ministry, along with members from the CDC and the Regional Democratic Council, visited the community on Friday to assess the water level.“CDC had some volunteers who are specialised in meteorology (and) agriculture, and we were able to visit Kwakwani, particularly Lamp Island and the Waterfront area, where we observed the water level was 6 feet above the ground. But where it’s flooded, over the years, I think the residents would have taken up adaptation measures; so even though the water level is high, many of the houses aren’t flooded. So most of the homes are constructed to take up the effect of that level of water,” Craig said during a telephone interview.He explained that over 300 persons are directly or indirectly affected, and outlined that although the residents have adopted adaptive measures, there are some whose homes are completely flooded, and they would have had to move to higher ground.“At the time of the visit too, what we found (was that) people were cooking and had adequate food supplies, and they have taken measures to reduce mosquito-borne diseases. They were using bleach in the water, and we asked the Region and the Kwakwani Sub-District to continue to monitor and gather data on the situation.“Once things escalate, we would give them additional support as required; but as for now, we are sending water purification tablets for the families, and also some bleach so people could continue to purify the water, because we do not want any outbreak within the community,” Craig said.The CDC Head said the CDC would continue to work closely with the Regional Administration to ensure there is no preventable damage to the residents. Explaining that the affected areas are mostly low-lying communities, he said residents had been given house lots to relocate, but they failed to so do because of a number of factors.RDC unaware of floodingAccording to an official from the community, over 100 households are affected by the floods. However, Regional Chairman Renis Morian on Friday indicated that the RDC was unaware of the situation as it unfolded, despite having a regional officials stationed in the community.“We have an officer up there serving as Assistant Regional Executive Officer, who would have known about this flooding about two or three days, and we weren’t informed. As soon as we got word that there is flooding in there, we notified the CDC; and I know for sure that a team has gone there,” Morian stated.Residents have complained of household appliances and belongings being damaged due to the flood situation, which they believe was caused by the inclement weather pattern and overtopping of the Berbice River. The community has reportedly been experiencing significant high tide since last weekend.Regional Chairman Renis Morian has said there is need to understand against what backdrop the flooding is taking place, as he pointed out that due to increased rainfall, there is presently high tide in the river. He said those affected are mainly from low-lying areas. He warned that, should persons continue to live in such areas, they would experience flooding.“Most of the persons who are (experiencing) flooding live on an island called Lamp Island. The Government did ask them to relocate and, you know, offer them land and so on, but they refused. So, once persons stay in these low- lying areas and the river rises, you will get flooding”, he explained.He noted how unfortunate it is that while higher lands are available, affected persons are refusing to occupy them. Nevertheless, he said the team is working, and the RDC would also move to take necessary action.“What we’re doing is trying to mitigate the impact of the flooding, hence the team is up, and I think they would have walked with support. But coming back from that report, the RDC will move again to do what we have to do,” Morian has promised.For now, the residents are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure that damages are as minimal as possible. Residents are utilising boats as the mode of transportation, since most of the roads are inundated.