Death Traps Could Defeat Development If . . .

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Our Senior Reporter C.Y. Kwanue, who has over the years shown that he has a wide eye for societal problems, did it again last week Monday when he observed a “death trap” at  Benson and Lynch Streets. 

A rotten light pole there had been hit by a speeding lorry and was hanging dangerously over the busy intersection leading from the ever busy Benson Street to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium and the Red Cross headquarters.  And where were the people responsible for light poles in the country? They were probably too busy rehabilitating the power generation plants on Bushrod Island, or perhaps the Mount Coffee Hydro.  Meanwhile, the rotten pole, with live electric wires, hung perilously over the street, putting at risk pedestrians, automobiles and nearby buildings.

Thankfully the LEC management, on seeing Mr. Kwanue’s story on the Daily Observer’s back page Thursday morning, rushed its technicians to Lynch Street and took down the threatening pole.  They did it efficiently, so that there was no mishap.

But LEC is not alone.  Road contracters are notorious for this kind of behavior, and so are other agencies on whom we rely to push our development agenda, the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) included.  Too often LWSC technicians dig up holes in the middle of the street or on the side walk with absolutely NO warning signs.  If anyone slips into such a hole and sustains a broken leg or other injury, he or she is on his own.  The identical thing happened to a woman named Elsie Weah who was leaving her place of work, the Ministry of Finance a few years ago.  She broke her leg and had to be responsible for her own hospitalization and treatment.

A group of technicians who are currently putting people and motor vehicles at risk are the Chinese contractors undertaking the Red Light-Ganta road construction.  All along the highway from Paynesville to Kakata and beyond, there are huge ditches as well as heavy equipment on both sides of the road, with several detours for vehicles.  The trouble is: there are NO danger signs anywhere—not even adequate reflectors, which are cheap and easily available.   

The absence of danger signs at such places portrays a callous (coldhearted, uncaring) attitude toward precious human life.  Are they waiting for a vehicle loaded with passengers to plunge into a detour ditch and die before they do something about it?

We call on Public Minister Gyude Moore, whose Ministry has oversight of ALL construction throughout  the country, as well as for ZONING everywhere, to issue an ordinance making it MANDATORY that ALL construction works are protected with properly lit signs, sufficiently and fully visible throughout the day and night to prevent unnecessary accidents.  For one broken leg or death incurred unnecessarily at a construction site could negate (counteract, go against) development efforts which are designed not to harm or to kill, but to improve the lives and livelihood of the people.

We wish further to remind the new Public Works Minister—if he has not already found out— that one of the most inactive or dysfunctional areas of his Ministry is its Zoning Section.  From time immemorial this Section at Public Works has been inactive and woefully ineffective. 

That is why people have been allowed to build shacks and concrete structures not just in Monrovia and other cities but  all over the country—on other people’s land, in alleys, in the open street, wherever.  Because there are NO zoning regulations or the total lack of enforcement thereof, people have gotten away with total impunity.

About two years ago the President herself, in total frustration, admitted that the concessions involved in the Western Cluster mining—in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties—could not rebuild the railway to convey iron ore  to the Freeport of Monrovia because squatters had built structures all along the way.  It would take a lot of time and over US$30 million to clear the way for this railway to be built, she said. 

We trust that Minister Moore and his entire staff, and all those involved in construction of any kind on the streets and highways of the country will take heed and remember the costly and potentially deadly consequences of their failure to do the right thing to protect lives and property.   

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