‘Road Safety Strengthens Economy’

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Aerial view of the Safe Streets Festival earlier this month (Photo: Kunal Chotrani)

LNP, GIZ and Partners stage 2nd Monrovia Safe Streets Festival

The Liberia National Police in collaboration with the German Cooperation (GIZ) with assistance from the World Bank, Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia, European Union, and OMEGA Insurance Group Limited has successfully ended its annual one-day road safety activity dubbed: Safe Streets Festival, 2nd Edition” on Saturday, 7 December 2019 on Broad Street, Central Monrovia.

The event which took place under the theme: “Road Safety Strengthens Economy,” brought together stakeholders and road users as a means of raising awareness on road safety to highlight the idea of safe-car-free streets that allow only non-motorized transportation – pedestrians and cyclists – on the street so that citizens can feel free to walk around, participate in a wide range of leisure activities and play with children, without risk of being run over.

The one-day fun-packed event included a 6-km race from JFK to the event site at the junction of Broad and Mechlin Streets and also featured culture, comedy and entertainment activities, as well as stands with Road Safety Education and play areas for children on Broad Street. There was also a Market Fair of Made-In-Liberia products, between Randall & Ashmun Streets, which displayed and sold locally made arts and crafts, fashion, beauty, food products and much more, all supporting Liberian small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The event brought together over 10,000 road users and stakeholders with over 150 people participating in the race, 200 kids testing their bicycle skills, 300 at bouncing castle and 200 at dancing competition, over 40 vendors at the market fair and 100 participants testing their eye sight at the Ministry of Health and WHO stand. The major audience was attracted to the main stage with top Liberian artists.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Mr. H. Moses Carter, Sr. who proxied for the Inspector General of Police, Hon. Patrick T. Sudue expressed delight over the event and called on road users to make good use of the messages at the Festival in reducing road accidents. He added that if cases of accidents must reduce, it will require the total involvement of the citizenry.

Mr. Carter urged motorists and other road users to support the efforts of the partners by abiding by road traffic signs and messages which will help to prevent accidents across the country. He thanked the World Bank, GIZ as part of German Cooperation, Millennium Challenge Account, the Swedish Government, European Union and other partners for their support in ensuring safer streets for road users in Liberia. He pledged the LNP leadership’s support towards the sustenance of the Road Safety festival.

For her part, the EU Ambassador, Hélène Cavé expressed the significance of the event in reducing accident cases across the country. Madam Cave pledged the commitment of the European Union in ensuring support towards reducing accident cases in the country.

Also speaking, the Chargée and Head of Development Cooperation of Swedish Embassy, Elisabeth Hårleman expressed how grateful the Swedish government is for promoting road safety tips aimed at reducing accident cases. She noted that all over the world, accident cases are normal, but efforts must be made in ensuring a safe road for pedestrians and motorists.

Project Director of the Capacity Development in the Transport Sector implemented by the GIZ Ulrich Thüer, highlighted the work of the Project. It is focused on supporting the Liberian Governmental institutions in the development of the Road Fund Act and its operation; implementing a data-based, transparent and sustainable processes for prioritising activities in road maintenance; providing road safety management, awareness and enforcement. The Project is working for better and safer roads for Liberians. Particularly, helmet usage and road worthier vehicles can help improve road safety in Liberia.

Mayor of Monrovia Jefferson Koijee (3rd from let) with GIZ and LNP officials (Photo: Blessing Leo)

The event was also graced by the Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Hon. Jefferson Koijee who took time to narrate his accident ordeal to the audience. Mayor Koijee informed the audience that road safety messages are very instrumental for avoiding accidents. He cautioned all Liberians to get involved and help spread the messages of road safety as a means of saving lives. He singled-out the importance of using seatbelt which according to him helped safe his life during his most recent accident experience.

The event was blended with musical performances from Liberian International musician, Friday Cellphone Man, Liberian awarded musicians Amaze, Mr. Parbai, Da Vero, Takun J and James Koko Chie live band. For side attractions, Bookman and LIB Jalloh, and Angel Michael also stirred up the stage with comedy performances. Also, the Bendu Kiazolu Cultural Troupe and the School of Liberian Arts cultural troupe lighted the event with great performances.

Annually, Liberia loses up to 7% of its GDP due to inadequate road safety measures and high levels of traffic related deaths and injuries. According to the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, at least 35.9 deaths are recorded per 100,000 population. This places Liberia at the first place in the global ranking of Road Traffic Deaths and Proportion of Road Users by Country. According to the Liberia National Police’ Statistics, at least one person dies a day and six persons sustain injuries on Liberian roads. Around 100 cases of traffic collisions are reported daily. Participants of the Safe Streets Festival learned about the safer use of roads in Liberia.

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