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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora