14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández, Camagüey, 19 March 2019 — The number of deaths due to traffic crashes in Camagüey increased in 2018 according to data from the Provincial Highway Commission: 64 people were killed and 647 injured, compared to 58 and 540 in the previous year.
With a total of 597 crashes, the roads of Camagüey continue to be among the most dangerous on the Island, only behind the provinces of Havana, Matanzas and Villa Clara, and ahead of Holguín and Santiago, all at the top of the list for the number of crashes. The most affected municipalities were Camagüey with 319, Florida with 55, Sibanicú 27, Esmeralda 21 and Vertientes 20.
The authorities provided data for the most frequent causes, such as loose animals on the road and the irresponsibility of drivers, who were fined more than 7,000 times. Camagüey has registered 11,224 drivers whom the Roads Commission has proposed to evaluate more frequently.
According to the Commission, “only Santa Cruz del Sur and Jimaguayú managed to reduce the rates of a problem whose fundamental causes are, among others, not paying due attention when driving and ingesting alcoholic beverages.” In addition, they added that the number of victims increased in both Sierra de Cubitas and Esmeralda, “all of which presupposes the need to continue demanding the relicensing and psycho-physiological studies of drivers, both private and state.”
However, once again, those responsible for traffic avoided addressing problems as visible as the state of the roads and the vehicles themselves.
“It says that up to Kilometer 500 the are roads in poor condition, but I think that’s true for the whole trip from here to Havana. What’s more, the roads here are like neighborhood streets and today’s buses are not made for that,” a young man explained to 14ymedio, while observing the informational posters placed in the interprovincial bus terminal. The blackboards located at the front of the platform show the most dangerous sections so that the drivers will take precautionary measures. “It is unfair to only blame the drivers for crashes without talking about the bad conditions of the roads,” he protests.
“When we travel we find ourselves getting into vehicles in poor condition, with obsolete technologies that were not even designed for the transport of people,” explained Enrique Fundora. “Whenever I can, I book Yutong buses, in advance, for long trips, but within the province there is no such alternative and that’s why disasters happen.”
Sergio Tejeda told this newspaper he almost lost his life last month in a serious crash on his way to Camagüey. “Climbing a hill I passed a Yutong and could not dodge a pothole in the road.” The car swerved out of control into the opposite lane, hitting the rear wheel of a truck converted into a bus that was carrying passengers heading east. “The pothole affected the steering column and caused the accident, thank God nothing happened to me, but the repair of the vehicle cost me about 10,000 CUP.”
The vehicles most involved in traffic crashes are cars, with 117 incidents, followed by motorcycles with 81 and bicycles with 53.
In the official note released by the authorities of the sector, it is emphasized that road safety is of special concern to the country’s leadership, so “the Provincial Road Commission will require its entities in the municipalities to exercise their functions, above all because the number of people involved continues to grow and because all the actions that are taken to reduce the crash rate fail to work.”
But nothing is said about improving the infrastructure, making it possible to renovate the vehicle fleet, or facilitating the purchase of spare parts for vehicles at affordable prices.
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