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Aug 21, 2014

Road Safety Program Revisited One Year Later

This morning, stakeholders across the transportation industry, as well as the public service, converged on the Biltmore to evaluate the National Road Safety Program one year later.  While the focus of the program includes drunk driving, a great deal has also been invested in infrastructure, equipment and training.  News Five was present at the review and Isani Cayetano has the following story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Statistics, as they relate to the number of traffic fatalities since the beginning of the year, indicate that there have been no less than thirty major vehicular collisions across all major thoroughfares in Belize.  Of that number, a total of thirty-five persons have lost their lives, the most recent is fifty-four-year-old Yolanda Valencia, who perished on Saturday morning when a sports utility vehicle crashed into the taxicab she was traveling in.  The figures are set against the backdrop of a national awareness campaign by the Transport Department.  This morning, at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, stakeholders gathered for a Road Safety Annual Review.


Santiago Castillo Jr.

Santiago Castillo Jr., Minister of State, Ministry of Economic Development

“A little over a year ago we launched the Road Safety Project under the Ministry of Economic Development and so we are now doing the annual review.  This is a two-day seminar to see all that has been accomplished and what more will be accomplished during the next twelve months.”


While the plan of action going forward is to reduce the staggering numbers of deaths resulting from road traffic accidents, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Errol Gentle says that there has been a considerable decrease in RTAs when compared to 2013.


Errol Gentle

Errol Gentle, C.E.O., Ministry of Works & Transport

“We have had a reduction of thirty percent fatality along the demonstration corridor and whilst we are only concentrating on a demonstration corridor, the road traffic accident deaths are on all of our highways and therefore this effort has to spill over.  It has to include the entire country but right now since it’s a pilot project we are looking only at the demonstration corridor being the area from Belize to Belmopan.  And yes, since the beginning of this year there has been an increase in fatalities, we were hoping that the figures for last year, for this year that we would even have better results.  I am still hopeful and I am certain that with the efforts that we are undertaking right now we will see those figures reducing again.”


The Road Safety Project, funded in part by the Caribbean Development Bank, according to Operations Officer Glen McCarvell, has been off to a slow start, despite the major investment and efforts that have been thrust into the initiative.


Glen McCarvell

Glen McCarvell, Operations Officer, Caribbean Development Bank

“It’s a little bit behind but perhaps by three to six months.  This is associated with some of the procurements, it’s taking a little bit longer than anticipated, perhaps we were a bit too optimistic when we first designed things.  It took a while to get the project management team in place, etc… But now we’re starting to achieve results, enforcement is being done, the infrastructure is approaching the end on the demonstration corridor, the implementation, the Belmopan works are going to be completed in their design shortly and we would expect the Belmopan works will start implementation in December and January of this year.”


Notwithstanding all that is going into realizing the project, the biggest problem concerning road safety continues to be drunk driving.  Of the number of fatal accidents mentioned earlier, the most shocking so far involves a deadly collision in Burrell Boom, during the Ruta Maya weekend, in which a toddler, along with two others lost their lives.  That incident was succeeded several months later by the deaths of Duane Pelayo and Gerald Tillett.  Both expired on impact when the motorcycle they were riding slammed into a pickup truck along the Phillip Goldson Highway.  The most recent tragedy however, occurred on Saturday morning near Succotz.


Errol Gentle

“The biggest problem I can say to you is drunk driving and that is the reason why the education component is so important.  There has to be an attitudinal change with our drivers.  If you are drunk you can’t get behind a wheel and that is the reason why enforcement is also important.  But the education, talking to drivers, if you know we have been in the schools, there has been teacher training and there has also been training with students.  We have the YOURS program is Youths for Road Safety which is very, very active and we are hoping with these initiatives, I must say that the enforcement will be stepped up as well.  You can see the patrol vehicles on the highway and initially we were just doing mainly monitoring and out there as a deterrent there will be becoming very vigilant, they will be issuing tickets.  Drivers who are behind the wheel, who are driving drunk, will be taken out of their vehicle and will be taken away.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Road Safety Program Revisited One Year Later”

  1. Jesus says:

    Transport can provide stickers to drivers. The alcohol people are just interested in selling-the fee should be raised or maybe demand that an id and a record be kept of their sells and only an amount be allowed to a customer.

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