19 February 2013

Liberia: Traffic Light Brings Safety - Citizens Applaud Government

Liberians' dream for safety measures in traffic regulation is gradually coming to past with the installation of more traffic lights in various traffic congested locations in Monrovia.

Some say, red light, as traffic light is commonly known in Liberia is changing the city outlook at night with significance reduction in motor accidents. Street crossing by pedestrians is also becoming an easy task as compare to the past when there was no traffic light.

Over the weekend, I talked to several road users including pedestrians on the impact of the newly installed traffic lights. Many people in their joyful moods applauded the government of Liberia for the red light initiative.

Morris Kamara, a Pehn-Pehn (Motorbike) Rider on 20th Street said, he finds the traffic lights as a blessing for the motorists. He added that traffic lights is not only helping to regulate traffic, but also providing light for them at night.

With the traffic lights, one doesn't need to worry about crossing the streets. "One thing I like about this Red light is that it doesn't know Minister or Director. It treats everybody equally, but with traffic police, they can pick and choose who to go first or last", Morris Kamara said.

According to Morris Kamara, there were lots of irregularities when traffic police were regulating traffic at the various intersections. Unlike those days, Morris Kamara said, everything is going on smooth except for those who willfully violate the traffic lights instruction.

Taxi Driver Jerry Kollie said red lights are important to drivers because they regulate traffic safety. Driver Kollie who, according to him, has been driving since 1986 commended the Ministry of Public Works for installing traffic lights in the city and at the same time called on the Liberia National Police to educate drivers on the use of red lights.

"This red light will solve lots of problems for us including minimizing the extortion of money from us by Traffic Police Officers," Kollie said.

Prior to the installation of traffic lights, street navigation in Monrovia was chaotic with pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes and streetcars all competing for first place. But now, the story has changed as one must abide by the red light instruction which is now making street crossing very easy for pedestrians.

Bandu Savlee, a petty trader on 12th Street says her days of wordiness to send her son across the street are over. She told me in an interview that since government installed traffic light on 12th street, she has find it very easy and save to send her son across the road. "All I told my son to do is to always follow the traffic light instruction and since then, he has been going across the street with ease", Madam Savlee declared.

For his part, a desktop publisher only identify as Momolu said since the installation of traffic light on 12th street, the tendency for drivers to slow down and look out for people walking in the middle of the street is on the increase, noting that only few unscrupulous drivers are found in the habit of violating the red light. "I want the police to drastically deal with people who violate traffic lights instruction", Momolu said.

Currently the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Works has installed traffic lights at five major intersections in Monrovia including Vai Town, Catholic Junction, Vamoma, 20th and 12th Streets. Other areas expected to shortly benefit from traffic lights are Capitol Bypass, Broad and Junction Streets and Broad and Randall Streets, Public Works Transport Engineering, A Blamoh Tugbeh said.

The cost of each of the traffic light according to traffic engineers is US$60,000.00. Sources from the Ministry of Public Works say; government is expected to install 18 traffic lights at major intersections in Monrovia.

According to history, the world's first traffic lights were installed near London's House of Commons (intersection of George and Bridge Streets) in 1868 and were invented by J P Knight.   While other accounts have it that the world's first electric traffic signal was put into place on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 10th Street in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914.

Notwithstanding, to every rule, there is exception. According to traffic police, ambulances and Presidential Convoys are not subject to traffic lights. Meaning, greed light or no green light, ambulances and presidential convoys can proceed. I hope the Liberia National Police can provide adequate education on this aspect in order to avoid future problem. Reported By Joe Lackay Freeman.

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