OP-Ed: How much more lives have to be lost for positive change?

Dear Editor,

Yesterday day, our community was enveloped in profound shock and grief following a tragic accident on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, which claimed the lives of several individuals, including two young teachers who were not only esteemed colleagues but dear friends.
First and foremost, I extend on behalf of the People of Region Ten our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in today’s accident. In this regard and moreover as a teacher colleague and friend of Sir Dwalon Farrell a teacher at my school, New Silvercity Secondary who lost his life, it would be remiss of me not to say that the loss of the young teachers, whose promising lives were dedicated to educating and inspiring our youth, is particularly poignant. Their absence leaves a void not only in their families but in the hearts of students, colleagues, and the broader community.
This tragedy is a harsh reminder of the fragility of life and the unpredictable nature of our journeys. May their souls rest in peace, and may their families find solace in the outpouring of support from the community during this devastating time.
As we mourn the loss of all these vibrant lives, we are starkly reminded of the persistent dangers that plague this crucial and important roadway. The continuous toll of lives lost, exacerbated by dangerously driven sand, stone, and lumber trucks, underscores the urgent need for substantial upgrades and enhanced law enforcement presence.
In January 2024, it was announced that US$183 million was earmarked for the reconstruction of the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, yet this much need action remains noticeably absent. Why? How much more lives have to be lost for positive change?
In this regard I again call upon all road users to exercise greater responsibility as I implore the government to expedite necessary investments to fix this highway and for greater police presence to help curb the rampant recklessness on this vital route.
The urgent need for responsible road use while infrastructural improvements are crucial, the behavior of road users plays a pivotal role in ensuring safety. Reckless driving, particularly by heavy-duty trucks transporting sand, stones, and lumber, poses a significant threat to all road users.
These vehicles often speed, overlook traffic regulations, and operate with little regard for the safety of others, leading to frequent, sometimes fatal, accidents.
To every driver on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, consider this a plea for heightened vigilance and responsibility. The highway is not merely a route for transportation but a shared space that requires mutual respect and adherence to traffic laws.
The lives lost yesterday could have been our own families, friends, or ourselves.
It is therefore imperative that we adopt safe driving practices, adherence to speed limits.
Speeding is a leading cause of accidents and therefore observing speed limits, especially in areas prone to heavy traffic and pedestrian activity, can significantly reduce the risk of collisions.
Regular vehicle maintenance, ensuring that vehicles, particularly heavy-duty trucks, are in optimal working condition, avoiding distractions, and engaged in defensive driving are some means of being prepared for the unexpected actions of other drivers and road.
As a community we have a collective responsibility to be our brother’s keeper, let us lend support to those families during and after this difficult time, make their souls rest in peace and rise in glory. May we continue to pray for the injured passengers to recover swiftly and for the family members of all involved to be given strength during this sad and difficult time.
Yours respectfully
Hon. Jermaine Figueira MP

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