Group Petitions Legislature To Enact Laws on Public Safety

During the week of 20th to 26th May, 2024, the National Safety Partnership of Liberia, NASAPAL, joined a global campaign of civil society organizations to advocate for safer motor roads in all countries of the world. 

Dubbed: #CommitToAct #MakeItSafe brought out on the street in the same week across the world, over 300 civil society groups including NASAPAL drawn from over 100 countries including Liberia to show the reality of people’s journeys. 

Like NASAPAL in Liberia, volunteers of civil society groups took snapshots of the movement of road users including vehicles and pedestrians. They identified intersections, snapped photos, recorded number of pedestrians, observed drivers’ adherence to the 30 km/h zones, and noted pedestrian facilities and traffic calming ramps. Said data is being processed for submission to the Alliance which, in turn, would upload the findings to its website for global use.  

Prior to NASAPAL’s formation and registration in October 2013, its Founder Mr. Philip E.P. Woods, II and team conducted a public safety survey with emphasis on road safety from 2007 to 2010. The survey covered Margibi, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Gbarpolu, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Rivercess and Montserrado.

NASAPAL’s Chief Executive Officer for Public Service & Institutional Development of NASAPAL Weah Karpeh, finds the report of the survey intriguing. “Imagine,” Weah stated, “The study found more than 90 percent of drivers were self-taught; more than 95 percent of drivers and pedestrians knew little about their responsibilities; more than 90 percent of drivers unaware of Liberia’s road policy due to inadequate information; more than 85 percent of road users knew little about the relevance of vehicle insurance.”

He added, it fascinated him that the research discovered “The government kept improper record of road incidents and data of vehicles; drivers’ schools used self-designed and disjointed curricula; many road users disrespect the police because the officers worked unprofessionally; some road peddlers abused public facilities and disrespected public policy enforcers; and public officials disrespected ordinary people in performing their duties leading to reactions harmful to public safety.

The Chief Executive Officer for Public Service & Institutional Development stressed that it broke his heart that following the three-year survey and its findings nearly 14 years old, little has been done by the Government to improve road safety throughout Liberia.

This is why, according to him, on Thursday, May 19, 2024 NASAPAL petitioned the Legislature to ensure enforcement of laws that protect road users including charging reckless perpetrators of road accidents with manslaughter and other tougher penalties; press for development of standard-curricula for drivers’ education; increase budgetary allotments for State functionaries in the frontline of public safety including road safety; ensure stiffer policies on insurance firms to intensify outreach activities to road users; and enforce training for all road users because they must enjoy equal access to the road.

Also, the organization asked the Lawmakers to ensure regulations on the use of roads is taught across the Country to curb violence, and reduce fatalities and injuries; push for compulsory driver’s education subsidized by the Government; ensure Alcohol and Tobacco Control Law is in place to prohibit the sale of the products.

Interestingly, NASAPAL entreated the Legislature to increase police salaries to the minimum of LD$100,000 (US$500.00) to discourage soliciting and receiving bribes; ensure police officers that engage in malpractices are disrobed; empower citizens to photograph duty police officers; ensure duty officers carry body-cameras in order to check what they do at work; and ensure public transportation is “districtlized” or decentralized so that the service reaches all Liberia.

Lastly, the group admonished the Capitol Building to exercise oversight on civic education to ensure respect for law and order making communities sustainable in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

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