KAKATA, Margibi â€“ At least six people are confirmed dead while others are in critical medical condition as a result of an accident last Friday night in Gborfellah, a small community on the suburb of Kakata along the Suakoko Highway.
A mini Volvo truck was traveling from Gbarnga to Monrovia loaded with goods and passengers when it was involved in the accident because one of the front tires caught fire, eyewitnesses reported. The truck then lost control and somersaulted into a nearby ditch.
Medical authorities at the government-run C. H. Rennie Hospital confirmed that six persons had died, including five females and a male. The Liberia National Police reported that at least nine persons who survived the tragic motor accident are currently seeking emergency medical care. Six others survived unharmed, including the driver of the vehicle, Abu Kamara, two personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the conductor, and two women riding in the front seats.
The number of accidents has increased since the rehabilitation of the Suakoko Highway and police say Margibi is the second most dangerous county for accidents in Liberia.
In response to the accident and many other recent ones, a road safety advocacy group known as Save Life Liberia gathered outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, October 29 to present a petition to President George Weah seeking his intervention.
â€œSave Life Liberia calls for the presidentâ€™s urgent and utmost attention on road safety to reduce these unnecessary deaths of his citizens,â€ the organization wrote in a press release.
Save Life drew attention to numerous high-profile accidents of the past, including where former President Ellen Johnson Sirleafâ€™s motorcade killed two children in 2016, the death of musician Quincy Burrowes in 2017, and the loss of a Mandela Washington Fellow this year.
The advocacy group called for the president to attach the same level of urgency to road accidents as Liberia did with the Ebola epidemic in 2014, as it noted that police reported that â€œ4 persons die on our roads a day and 100 more people are severely injured.â€
Save Life listed unsafe vehicles, unsafe roads, a lack of road safety education, and a need for regulations encouraging seatbelt use among several factors contributing to road accidents.
Among other demands, the organization called for the president to institute a national driver training program for all drivers and to issue an executive order requiring seatbelt use and other regulations. Save Life also recommended that the president and other government convoys be required to reduce their speeds when in dense urban areas.
In early October, Liberia launched a US$22.1 million National Road Safety Action Plan to be implemented over 10 years. The plan proposed establishing a Road Safety Council, which would comprise of representatives from the Liberia National Police, the Ministries of Transport, Public Works, and Health, and civil society. The council would supervise road safety activities of a Road Safety Secretariat.
The government has not yet started implementing the plan.
Featured photo by Emmanuel Degleh