KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Two occupants of the vehicle that Agriculture Minister Montgomery Daniel said swung onto the right lane of the road to prevent him from overtaking in Overland on Tuesday have denied the allegation.
“No, no, no; I didn’t swing over at all,” Franklin Evans, the driver of the vehicle, told I-Witness News yesterday.
He said the road was too narrow to allow a vehicle to overtake and since he too was hustling into Kingstown, he continued to drive when Daniel indicated — by honking his horn — that he wanted to overtake.
Evans, a property evaluator, said he was driving around 50 to 60 kilometres per hour when Daniel tried to overtake, adding that there was debris from road cleaning on the sides of the road so he did not give way to the Member of Parliament.
The incident came to the attention of the nation when Daniel, apologising in Parliament for his lateness on Tuesday, said he had “one of the most unfortunate circumstances” in “all of my years of driving”.
He then detailed to lawmakers how “a vehicle, P9697, a Suzuki, driving at around 40-45 kilometres per hour” pulled onto the right side of the road when he tooted his horn, indicating that he wanted to overtake.
“I actually thought it was someone form the U.S. or so who is driving … When I went up and I turned the immediate corner and there is a straight road of around 400 or 500 feet, again, I tooted my horn only to find that the vehicle pulled again on the right side of the road, almost touched my vehicle,” Daniel said.
“Then, I realised that this has to be a wilful act. I immediately called the Georgetown police because I wanted to know who is the driver,” Daniel aid.
He said that while he did not know Evans, a Calliaqua resident, he knows his constituent Helen Bowens, of Owia.
“So, therefore, I immediately determined what was happening,” Daniel said.
Daniel said that the police told Evans that since his vehicle did not collide with Daniel’s no offence was committed so he was free to go.
“But I really wanted to know who was driving the vehicle because it is most unfortunate circumstance I ever had since I am driving on the road. As I say, I don’t know who is Franklyn Evans; but he is from Calliaqua and I will try to find out much more of who he is,” Daniel said.
But Evans, who had given a ride to Bowens, a pre-school teacher in Georgetown, and her grandson, said that Daniel had earlier stopped to pick up someone at a part of the road that “wasn’t in a nice position to stop.
“It was in a corner and then some people were cleaning the road so I blow the horn and the guy who was cleaning the road said to pass.”
He said that further down the road he heard a horning signalling the driver’s intention to overtake.
“But the road was narrow and I couldn’t go over any more. And people were cleaning on the other side. So, he couldn’t pass in any case. So I didn’t pull aside … I just continued travelling,” Evans said.
He said Daniel later indicated that he wanted to overtake.
“But I wasn’t travelling that slowly, I was kind of hustling so I continued travelling and it was going around a corner and the road was kind of narrow,” he told I-Witness News.
Evans said that Daniel again stopped to pick up someone and he continued on his journey and was later stopped by the police in Georgetown, who told him they had a report that he had hit another vehicle but didn’t stop.
He said that Daniel arrived on the scene shortly after.
“So, when Daniel came and they asked him about hitting the vehicle, he said ‘Oh no, he didn’t hit it. He nearly hit it.’ So I said, ‘Well this is a different story. Well this is craziness’,” Evans recounted to I-Witness News.
Evans further said that Daniel told the police that he had prevented him from overtaking, although two vehicles normally pass along the stretch of road.
But Evans said that he noted to the police the narrowness of the road and the debris on the sides.
“And I said, ‘As a matter of fact, the rule is, if you want to pass and I don’t give you permission, then you are passing at your own risk. I don’t have to give you permission to pass and that is how I know I know the law’.
“He (Daniel) said something and I said, ‘Some people, when they have power, the believe they can do anything but I did nothing wrong and I would like to go because I have work to do’,” Evans said in recounting the discussion in the presence of the police.
Evans further said that Daniel brought as a witness a lady who he picked up after his attempts to overtake.
Meanwhile, Helen Bowens, in a separate interview, told I-Witness News that that there was in fact debris on the side of the road when Daniel wanted to overtake.
She also said that the police said that they had a report that Evans has collided with another vehicle but didn’t stop.
“I know that didn’t happen …” she said, adding that she did not know what transpired between Evans, Daniel, and the police, since she did not exit the vehicle.
‘I do not support his party’
Bowens said that knows Daniel as her area representative but does not know what he meant when he said, “I know Helen. So, therefore, I immediately determined what was happening.”
“Sir, I cannot tell you what he means. He is the one who has to say what he means by that,” Bowens told I-Witness News yesterday.
“I don’t know what to say. All I know, I know him as the representative from up there. I do not support his party and he knows that. So I don’t know what he is referring to. I don’t know if it is politics, I am not going to [speculate],” she said.
“But I am telling you that he knows me very well because when they won the first year of election, he come into my home along with another person and I told him to his face that I can never support him,” Bowens said.
She, however, said that while she does not support Daniel politically, she has never had any conflicts with him.
“As far as I can recall, none whatsoever,” Bowens told I-Witness News.