Police, Transport Ministry evaluate Point Fortin Highway after DJ's death

KILLED IN ACCIDENT: Clyde "the Outlaw" Jemmot -

Police road safety co-ordinator Brent Batson and the Works and Transport Ministry's chief traffic engineer Adande Piggott visited the Point Fortin Highway extension on Monday for assessments after the death of popular DJ Clyde "The Outlaw" Jemmott. Jemmott, 56, died when the car he was in collided with the roundabout near Guapo and hit a utility pole, throwing him from the car, around 4.30 am on Sunday.

This was the third fatality on this section of roadway, which has been open for just over a month. Batson told Newsday the team had been told of concerns over lighting, signage and speeding. In a statement on Monday, Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal criticised the ministry for failing to put adequate safety measures in place on the road, and said Jemmott's death was on their hands.

"Minister Rohan Sinanan recently rushed to open a section of the highway to Point Fortin even without appropriate signs, flickering lights, and other cautionary measures," he said."In and out of Parliament, I identified specific areas that urgently required such signage, and warned that, in their absence, there could be serious auto tragedies. I stated that the highway had several missing pieces and that security features and devices must be installed before opening the highway.

"In the typical style of the PNM Government, the recommendations were ignored, and there have been several accidents, and now the sad death of a beloved media personality."Batson said traffic engineers were exploring additional signage and advance warnings for drivers.

Commenting on the highway's design, he said its still-pristine condition "kind of invokes (sic) persons to drive in a way instead of obeying the speed limit. "Persons could easily fall victim to wanting to speed on it because of its nice smooth design (and) good alignment. This is where persons have to be more disciplined."

Newsday asked if increased police presence could be expected while the ministry works on possible solutions. "The Southwestern division traffic section has been doing roving patrols in the area. The increased road presence would be as we get ready to launch our Christmas anticrime options. So they will definitely see an increase in patrols across the zones." Batson urged the public to be careful on the roads. "Coming up into the Christmas season, this warrants a lot of concern for us, because that would be 91 recorded road deaths for this year, and the total for last year was 95 and November has not finished.

"So we want to take this opportunity to remind all road users of the importance of being very cautious on the roadways. "We will continue enforcement efforts, but we are also appealing to the public to assist us in our efforts to make the road safer." Sharon Inglefield, founder of the road-safety NGO Arrive Alive, told Newsday she is aware of the complaints about the highway, but has not seen it as yet.

She echoed Batson's call for the public to be responsible on the roads. "Plan your journey. Designate a sober driver, or call a taxi. Adjust your speed to road conditions, and please buckle up front and back," she said in a WhatsApp message.

Additionally, she said the Ministry of Works and Transport needs to make roads more forgiving by doing an independent audit of the entire network. Newsday was unable to get a comment from Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan.

However, questions were sent to the ministry's corporate communications manager. Last year, the ministry also had to undertake a series of work at the Gandhi Village roundabout in Debe after numerous drivers collided with it, some losing their lives. Lighting, signage, rumble strips and water barriers have since been added.


"Police, Transport Ministry evaluate Point Fortin Highway after DJ’s death"

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