The headline and the three paragraphs below are direct quotations from a report in the Stabroek News of April 14, 2021. On the morning of April 15, the headline was changed to “Soldier dies in Homestretch Ave collision.” The April 14 report stated as follows:
“Brian Mitchell, 36, of Craig Street, Campbellville died last night after an accident on Homestretch Avenue.
A seven-year-old boy who was in his vehicle suffered injuries and was admitted to the hospital.
According to the police, enquiries revealed that motorcar # PVV 3684 was proceeding east on Homestretch Avenue while motorcar # PNN 5516 was proceeding west on the said road. It is alleged by Taishan Shanks, driver of motorcar # PVV 3684, that as he was in the vicinity of Help and Shelter, he saw motorcar # PNN 5515 driven by Mitchell swerve from the southern side of the road from behind a motor vehicle and end up in his path. As a result, the vehicles collided causing the drivers and occupants to suffer injuries.”
The April 15 report mentioned that Brian Mitchell was a soldier, that several persons were injured in the accident and that the Police were investigating.
This is the third occasion in less than twelve months that I am writing about Homestretch Avenue which I have described as the most dangerous road in the city of Georgetown. In less than the twelve months, Brian Mitchell is the fourth person who has died. Three persons have already died since the year began and unless something is urgently done, many more will die.
I have been trying to alert the authorities about the dangers of Homestretch Avenue for the time mentioned above. The width of the road gives a false sense of security and therefore encourages speeding. The absence of a barrier in the middle of the road results in reckless overtaking either on the inside or by going over to the other half of the road. This is often done when it is dangerous to do so and a collision with oncoming vehicles occur. Speeding also results in loss of control of vehicles as a result of which deadly accidents occur. These factors, combined with other hidden dangers, which road safety experts may be able to assess, have resulted in the death of Brian Mitchell on Wednesday night and the others before him.
The elimination of the dangers of Homestretch Avenue amount to an emergency task and should have been done a long time ago. Dozens of people have died on the road over the years and had the road been made safer those lives would have been saved. More people have died on this road by far than any other road in Georgetown. Unfortunately, this road continues to devour lives with an appalling and horrific regularity that years ago ought to have alerted the authorities that there was a problem with this road. For a reason that I do not understand, the appallingly high road fatalities and the pain and suffering caused by them have been completely ignored.
Perhaps we have become immune and desensitized to road deaths because of their regularity. Guyana is portrayed as having one of the highest rate of road deaths in the world. Or perhaps the authorities believe that reckless drivers who bring deaths upon themselves have no one to blame. Without excusing that callous view, the reality is that not only reckless drivers are victims. Many innocent persons suffer death and injury as a result of the type of driving encouraged by an unsafe road.
The responsibility for the road lies with the Mayor and City Council. But the well-known reality is that the Mayor and City Council does not have the resources that would be required to make Homestretch Avenue safe. Only the Government has the resources. Just a few days ago, in a radio interview, Vice President Jagdeo said that the proposed additions to the road network include a four-lane highway in Region Three, another four-lane highway from the western side of the Demerara River Bridge to Parika, a new four-lane Demerara River Bridge, the bypass highway from Ogle, a bypass highway from Mandela Avenue to Eccles and plans to construct a four-lane road network in Berbice. There are clearly enough resources to fix Homestretch Avenue, just as Carifesta Avenue was redesigned a few years ago. Since Carifesta venue was modified, there have been no deaths on that road. Though not as dangerous as Homestretch Avenue, it had some of the same characteristics. Few will forget the horrific crash when a young husband and wife died in a motor crash a few years ago. Today, with the modifications, such an accident would not have occured.
Despite these modest efforts to attract the attention of the authorities, I have seen no evidence that anyone has heard the cries of the mothers, fathers, children, spouses, partners, siblings and other loved ones of those who have lost their lives on Homestretch Avenue.