Slaughter of the young

 

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Category: Children/Teenagers Date: 19 Dec 04

 

They were opening the trays containing dead people in the hospital. “No, that’s not him,” said the mother, disbelieving she was in the morgue looking for her son, her last child, her baby.

 

“Oh,” said the attendant, “it’s the handsome one?”

 

“Yes,” said the mother, “that’s him.”

 

My co-worker told me this story when she returned from the funeral. It was all the mother had to hold on to in her grief. Her boy was the handsome one.

 

She wanted to climb into the hearse with his body. She didn’t want him going into that dark grave alone.

 

My co-worker was fed up of going to funerals of young friends. She’d been to two this month alone. The last time her friend was one of three killed when a truck slammed into them.

 

This time, she said, the dead boy went out reluctantly for a lime with his friend, who lost control of his car and killed them both.

 

I pulled up some Guardian headlines for this year alone that tell of road deaths. There were hundreds. Here are samples since the beginning of the year.

 

—Man killed while crossing road. Driver dies as truck crashes into house. 2 killed, 1 injured in Cocorite crash. Man dies in Beetham hit-and-run. Man mutilated in Central crash. Arima woman dies in Tobago crash.

 

Lawlessness on the highway. Accident victim laid to rest. PBR crash victim to be buried today. Grieving mom’s wailing ends funeral service. Three killed in crash after beach lime. Soldier killed instantly as car slams into bus.

 

Motorcyclist dies in crash. Man killed in highway crash. Pensioner killed on bus route. Point Fortin crash claims fourth victim. 2 Women, teen killed in Point Fortin crash. Dad killed in Debe smash-up. Cyclist killed in Morvant accident.

 

CARNAGE. Man killed, friend injured in crash. Instant death for 3 members of family;

Witness: Death truck brakes inoperative. Truck runs into tree. Two more killed on nations road. Teen driver killed after beach lime. Arouca man, 23, dies in crash. Girl, 4, killed by car.

 

T&T most unsafe country in Caribbean. Man dies in crash; wife, child critical. Lochans buried side by side. Govt turning blind eye to death traps;

Truck driver gets off on $90,000 bond. Man crushed by trucks on bpTT jetty. Teen dies in Central crash. 5 killed in one night. Road carnage. Couple killed a week before wedding. Four killed in highway crash.

 

Accident victim's funeral today. Accident victim gets wheelchair. Two die in drag race smash-up on Claude Noel Highway.

 

The list is endless. Private tragedies mount to become a carnage of national, and international proportions as the Pan American Health Organisation pronounces T&T as “the most unsafe country in the Caribbean.”

 

It’s shocking to think that a government rolling in oil money, that promised in January of this year to bring in the breathalyser, saying the test was expected to be in Parliament by March, has kicked us once again in the teeth by making the announcement, and doing nothing after that.

 

In January this year, too, Government claimed that the Police Highway Patrol Unit, launched in 2000 at a whopping cost of $8 million, was “revamped.”

 

The result is that this year we have more road deaths than EVER. The solution is so simple, it makes you want to weep at the grinning Transport Minister, Franklin Khan.

 

Mothers of dead children want to scream at him—Get a motorcycle patrol to stop every car going above the speed limit. Tighten up on our lousy drivers' tests which people take at 20 mph and make them rigorous.

 

Be tough on those ignorant, bullying truck drivers who drive like they are blind. Make them bring in an eye test.

 

Forget fines. After two offences take away licences. Enforce the law. Do your job. You owe it to the relatives of the dead in the morgues.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur