There are not too many people who remember Kpakor Hill, the high peak near Tubman Farm in Totota, Bong County that motorists traveling up country in the past frequently found impossible to climb, especially during the rainy season.
Many, many travelers died when the vehicles in which they traveled plummeted over the steep, muddy cliff into the gorge. Some vehicles, especially trucks loaded with goods bound for the interior, waited for days at the foot of the hill for the mud to dry before attempting the dangerous climb.
But all of that is no more. In the early 1960s the Tubman administration engaged the Italian road experts, Vianini, to pave the Monrovia-Totota Road and since then, motorists and passengers have had a safer ride to Totota and beyond. But drivers have taken terrible advantage of this long awaited development, driving recklessly on the paved and levelled hillside, and killing many in totally unnecessary accidents.
That road, unmaintained throughout the 14-year civil war, came into serious and hazardous disrepair. One of the successes of the Sirleaf administration has been the paving of the road from Careysburg through Ganta, as far as the Guinea border. After President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dedicated the road at the Guinea border a few months ago, this newspaper editorially called on motorists plying that vastly improved highway to show their appreciation for this great development by driving safely to reach their destinations, every traveler in one piece.
Alas, that was not the case last Thursday, when a tragic accident occurred at Kpakor Hill killing nine marketers who were bringing their goods from Nimba County to marketplaces in Kakata and Monrovia!
According to Observer Assistant Editor C.Y. Kwanue, eyewitnesses saw the driver speeding on the paved highway, and reaching the Kpakor Hillside, lost control and plunged headlong over the cliff!
But despite the tragic episode, God graciously showed His mercy: An infant and a four-year-old boy were saved from the wreckage!
But what a totally unnecessary loss of life—nine innocent and hapless market women and men, most likely farmers also, bringing their goods to the marketplace for sale. They lost their lives, their money and their goods, and their families have been made suddenly destitute.
When will our drivers realize that speeding can be costly—and deadly? When will the Liberia National Police be empowered to patrol the highways throughout the country to monitor and control the traffic and curtail speeding on our highways and paved corridors to save lives and property?
This seems to us to be among the critical security issues in the country that have a direct impact on our agricultural, commercial and economic development. For surely, when our farmers have struggled to grow and harvest their crops successfully, they must be given the chance to get them safely to the market, go shopping for needed items to take back to their families, and save some of the money to expand their farms and other businesses. But when they are endangered along the way to the marketplaces, losing their lives and their produce, what future is there for their children and other dependents and for their farms and businesses?
The Liberia National Police (LNP) Commissioner Chris Massaquoi should take far more seriously the issue of patrolling traffic throughout the country, to save lives and property and keep our farmers and market people safely and profitably engaged in their businesses, by which they can raise their families, further develop their farming and other enterprises, raise their standard of living and enhance the development of their counties.
Furthermore it should be a priority to empower all LNP branches in the counties to engage in effective patrolling of the traffic on the paved streets and highways within city limits and most especially along the highways, to stop or at least control the reckless driving that all too frequently occurs.
Inter-county drivers should be made to understand that they should show appreciation for the road development being undertaken at great cost by the government. They should not make things worse for the people by having them injured or killed on the highway due to reckless driving, lack of sleep, driving while intoxicated, overloaded vehicles and driving vehicles that are not road worthy and so on. But rather, our drivers should make things better for the safety, comfort, livelihood and progress of the Liberian people and all others who dwell within our borders.
It would make a big difference for the better if commercial drivers were required to attend an annual one day road safety certificate workshop which will cover all the issues of road safety, courtesy, passenger care and basic first aid.
Many of our drivers learned informally from relatives and friends therefore they never received any training on many of the important issues mentioned above.
Formal driver education from a recognized driving school and a comprehensive, scrupulous (trustworthy) driving test must be among the requirements for getting a driver’s license to ply the streets and highways of the nation, if we value the lives of our local traveling citizens and other residents.