Since the restoration of Liberia’s peace in 2003, the issue of road safety has always been a major problem, especially with the emergence of motorcycles (pem-pem) and tricycles (keh-keh) in the transport sector.
For this year, and with support from the German Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which is an international non-governmental organization (NGO), the Public Safety Division of the Liberia National Police (LNP) has intensified its strategies to reduce the increasing number of road accidents.
The campaign is part of several exercises that the LNP has initiated over the years, which aimed at encouraging community members to get involved by engaging drivers as well as motorists to limit their speed in residential areas as incidence of road accidents has gone from bad to worse.
The community road safety campaign was officially launched on August 16, 2019 at the Bassa community Town Hall in Monrovia under the theme, “Raising Road Safety Awareness in Community.”
Phase one of the exercise began shortly after the official launch of community debates, while phase two included a football and kickball tournament that was played between community teams on August 23 through 25, 2019 at the Slipway Sports pitch in Monrovia.
The event brought together participants from the Ministry of Transport (MoT), Road Safety Secretariat, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). It was brought together by teams from six other communities with 24 participating teams. Its exercise started from August 17-18, 2019, with Bassa Community, Perry Street, Jallah Town, Camp Johnson Road, Buzzi Quarters and Soniwein.
LNP Chief of Traffic, Alphonso G. Benda, told journalists that in spite of the series of awareness, drivers and commuters as well as pedestrians need to attach importance to road safety measures as road accidents have led to major causes of death, injuries and destruction of properties.
Benda described the campaign as “very important, because nowadays the issue of road safety plays a vital role in protecting life and property.”
“The LNP decided to intensify road safety awareness by engaging communities, because many of the road users are from the various communities,” Benda said.
The LNP’s expectation is that participants at the event will serve as ambassadors for their respective communities to educate other residents about the importance of road safety.
The program, he said, is “just a pilot project funded by GIZ, to see whether it would meet the target objective by reducing some of the unnecessary road accidents, because road safety is new to Liberians, but the police is knowledgeable. This is why we have taken the initiative by launching the program,” Inspector Benda said.
He spoke of how the traffic section of the LNP has devised new plans to take the campaign to about 25 schools across the country.
“We have started to do a formal communication to principals of the various schools in Monrovia, which will be extended shortly across the country,” Benda said.
Benda said the strategy by the LNP is also intended to include in the debate whether the issue of road safety should be integrated into the Liberian educational curriculum.
He is optimistic that if the debate goes well and gets the desired result, policymakers will see the reason to integrate road safety into the school curriculum.
The road safety debate, which brought together several communities, witnessed Jallah Town community win with 229 points, while Perry Street Community came second with 224 points.
Meanwhile, a symbolic trophy was presented to Jallah Town community as a token of appreciation for its participation.
Madam Yana Tumakova, GIZ Advisor for Capacity Development within the transport sector, expressed the hope that community members will consider the exercise important by taking the lead in spreading the awareness in their respective communities.
Madam Tumakova reiterated her institution’s commitment to working with the LNP to achieve its goal.