News / Africa

Liberia Has New Traffic Lights, Has Anyone Noticed?

FILE - People walk past the only traffic light in Monrovia, capital of Liberia, Sept. 7, 2001.
FILE - People walk past the only traffic light in Monrovia, capital of Liberia, Sept. 7, 2001.
Jennifer Lazuta
The Liberian government has installed traffic lights in the capital Monrovia for the first time since the 1990 civil war. The Liberia Transport Union says the lights will help regulate traffic and reduce the accident rate in the country. Installing the lights is one thing, but getting drivers to obey them is another.  
 
The World Health Organization says the majority of the 1.24 million people who die in traffic accidents worldwide each year die in Africa - where poor driving conditions and weak safety laws and enforcement contribute to the high accident rates. Lack of emergency medical care and specialized treatment for accident-related injuries, such as head trauma, only aggravate the situation.

 “Every day accidents are reported across Liberia. What we see is that the drivers drive recklessly. And so, in our wisdom, we thought as a way to regulate traffic was to bring in traffic lights,” explained Maxwell Darpue, the director of the Liberia Transport Union.
 
Two dozen traffic lights were turned on in Monrovia in January. The new lights are solar-powered, as electricity remains a problem throughout the country.
 
This is the first time drivers have had to contend with the forced stop-go since before the 1990 civil war.
 
Policeman Thomas Kieh said he has seen a difference in his district since the traffic lights were installed.
 
“Before the traffic lights came, we used to have three to four accidents every day," he said. "But since the traffic lights were installed, it has been reduced to not more than two. The drivers are adhering to the rules and regulations. The traffic lights are very helpful for Liberia.”
 
But not everyone is happy with the new lights.
 
Peter Smith, a local bus driver, said they just slow people down.
 
“Well, it is annoying, because most of the time when you are in a rush in the traffic, the traffic lights delay you and you often miss your appointments and your important meetings," he complained."So I don’t see the traffic lights being that necessary for now. I think the government must explore different means to regulate the traffic instead of bringing the traffic lights. We already don’t have good roads. With the traffic lights, it will delay a lot of operations.”
 
Melecki Khayesi, a technical officer for the WHO’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, said traffic lights can be an effective means of regulating traffic and reducing the number of crashes, but that the lights alone are not adequate.
 
“The traffic lights are just one of the many measures that need to be put in place. The most important factor to consider is traffic lights in relation to enforcement of the road safety culture, and to then make sure that drivers, as well as pedestrians, as well as other road users, can actually respect the traffic lights," Khayesi said.
 
Some drivers in Liberia continue to take matters into their own hands.
 
“These drivers are very stubborn. They are still overtaking the traffic," noted Monrovian resident Lorpu Tonie. " They don’t observe the traffic rules. Just yesterday, there was a serious accident and some people got killed. So the police need to strengthen these new traffic laws.”
 
Monrovia’s police spokesman, Sam Collins, says officers are aware of drivers not obeying the traffic lights and that any driver found to be violating the lights will be fined. He said penalties start at around 500 Liberian dollars -- about $7 (US) -- but can be higher depending on the severity of the violation.
 
Liberia’s Federation of Road Transport Union says it is currently hosting brush-up courses for drivers to teach them to obey the signals. The Liberian police department say they are also launching a public awareness campaign to educate people about the importance of stopping at red lights.
 
Collins noted there are plans currently in place to install traffic lights in other large cities throughout Liberia within the coming months.

You May Like

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid