By Rufus S. Berry II, MBA
I host many dinner parties at my home in both California and in Liberia. Because I serve alcohol, it is my responsibility to monitor how much is being consumed by guests. If a guest is injured or injures someone after drinking at my home, I could be held liable. In order to exercise caution, I provide alternative modes of transportation for guests to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
In this light, the Managing Director (“MD”) and management of the National Port Authority (“NPA”), along with Mahammed Kamara (the container truck driver) and owner of the container truck should and must be held liable for the container truck accident that occurred on Saturday, April 8, 2017, that left 4 people dead and 10 others injured https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/container-disaster-leaves-3-dead-11-injured/. The death and injury of these innocent Liberians could have been prevented.
The National Port Authority has a duty to the Liberian people to ensure the road safety of transporting cargo. Regrettably, they have failed to keep the Liberian people safe. These extremely unsafe and defective container trucks enter the port and wait long hours to load and transport containers on the streets of Liberia. On numerous occasions while at the port to facilitate the clearance of my private containers, I have seen container truck drivers in the cafeteria/canteen consuming acholic beverages. It is NPA’s responsibility to ensure these container truck drivers are not consuming alcohol before driving. There should be strict penalties in place if caught doing so, or some method of quality assurance to ensure that these activities are not taking place on the premises. The management of the NPA and owners of the unsafe trucks should be aware of their obligations to ensure the safety of the citizens of Liberia, and not the driver’s sole responsibility.
The NPA allows these extremely defective and unsafe trucks to leave their premises that are overweight and overloaded with cargo on the streets of the Republic of Liberia, thus putting thousands of lives at risk. The Managing Director, the Chief of Security and the NPA should be held liable along with the reckless driver. What better way to hold the MD and management accountable, than for the victims’ families to file a class action lawsuit against them. Punish them where it hurts most.
Both the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Transport should immediately assign agents at the National Port Authority. These agents will work alongside port security to ensure that unsafe trucks are prevented from entering or exiting the premises of the National Port Authority or any of the nation’s seaports.
Quite often, when one arrives on the scene of an accident anywhere in Liberia, many are quick to put the blame on a variety of causes: some tend to blame the accident on the work of the devil; others might blame the drivers for over speeding; overloading and doing wrong overtaking; the drivers often cite the poor road networks as the major factor – while government officials tend to put the blame on the poor pedestrians for not being careful on the streets (yet, there isn’t any enforcement mechanism in place to punish drivers who are continuously putting pedestrians legally on the crosswalks at risk). As a matter of fact, I have never seen a police officer cite any driver in violation of the crosswalk or jaywalking law.
The bottom line is that our people have always found somebody somewhere upon whom the blame should be shifted at the end of the day. All of these facts, including human error, vehicle breakdowns, non-roadworthy vehicles, poor road conditions and environmental factors like poor weather during the rainy season, which are major causes of accidents in Liberia, could be prevented. These factors could be prevented if the authorities at the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Transport are serious on the need to combat road accidents and keeping non-roadworthy vehicles off the roads. The authorities at these various agencies should also contemplate putting out public service announcements/programs geared towards educating both the drivers and passengers.
Many Liberians are asking themselves: What are the Ministry of Transport, the Liberia National Police and perhaps the management of the National Port Authority (in regards to defective and unsafe container trucks) actually doing here in Liberia? On a daily basis, extremely uncouth and dreadful motorcycle taxi drivers (Pen-pen and Keh-keh) are never fined for breaching road safety measures on a regular basis. Also, the Liberian people are seeing countless number of preventable and unsafe truck accidents; our various authorities come out with more alarming figures, yet nothing is done about it. It is always business as usual. Oh Mama Liberia! When will those in authority act in the interest of the Liberian people?
Let’s work together to inform the appropriate authority especially the Police, to immediately remove unsafe trucks and abandoned vehicles from our streets. The Police have the power to remove any vehicle that is in breach of local traffic regulations, causing an obstruction, likely to cause a danger, broken down, or abandoned without lawful authority from our streets.
Aayy my people! God can’t come down from heaven to help us ooo! We have to do it ourselves, because the life you save may be yours, or that of a parent, child, brother, sister or a friend.