ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DEATH on Liberia’s notorious Roberts International Airport. 

IN THE EARLY hours of Monday morning, Rep. Adolph Lawrence (CDC, District No. 15, Montserrado County and Ms. Gwendolyn Dabah Wilson, Executive Director of the Girls Education & Empowerment Initiative, an organization dedicated to uplifting women’s lives in Liberia lost their lives after reportedly falling prey to yet another truck-related accident on the on the airport route.

BESIDES REP. LAWRENCE and Ms. Wilson, a recent graduate of the University of Liberia who was in the front passenger seat of vehicle, three others – Prince B. Gbadoe, Carlor T. Edison and Aaron Cassell are currently in critical condition undergoing treatment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia.

THE FALLEN LAWMAKER was on his way from the celebration of his 50th birthday at the Buchanan residence of his wife, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence (Liberty Party, Grand Bassa County), when his Fiat Chrysler jeep reportedly ran under a truck carrying timber, killing the lawmaker and Ms. Wilson and critically wounding the three other passengers in the vehicle.

IT TOOK AUTHORITIES AND bystanders several hours to remove the body of Rep. Lawrence from the vehicle.

MONDAY’S ACCIDENT is just the latest in a long-line of tragedies on the infamous highway, rapidly become a sitting duck for motorists traveling the busy airport route.

MANY ARRIVING or departing or arriving from trips outside Monrovia have at one time or another encountered a truck sitting on the road; or as was the case of Rep. Lawrence, a truck losing control of its brakes and reversing back into unsuspecting vehicle, leading to fatal crashes.

THESE ACCIDENTS have increased the death statistics for a country still struggling to find its way after more than a decade of war.

ACCORDING TO THE MOST recent World Health Organization (WHO) data published in 2017 Road Traffic Accidents Deaths in Liberia reached 1,585 or 4.51% of total deaths. “The age adjusted Death Rate is 46.20 per 100,000 of population ranks Liberia #4 in the world,” according to the report.

IN 2016, statistics recorded 1,557 road accidents compare to the 1,149 in 2015.

THE STATISTICS REVEAL that deaths in road accidents were 175 while in 2015 a total of 215 people died in such mishaps.

IN 2016, ROAD ACCIDENT injuries were 1,539 compare to 1,118 in 2015. The increase was equivalent to 3.15 percent.

ACCORDING TO THE POLICE STATISTICS, 129 cases were taken to court in 2016 while 198 were taken to court in 2015. 798 of those cases were resolved in 2016 while 515 were resolved in 2015, 630 cases are pending in 2016 as compared to 436 in 2015.

IN 2016, 2,096 vehicles were damaged as compared to 1,644 in 2015, and 2,649 vehicles were involved, while 1,997 in 2015. The road accident statistics also revealed that accident description either by car to car, car to pedestrian, motorcycle to pedestrian, motorcycle to motorcycle and self-accident. 4,061 accidents occurred, 1,149 in 2015.

THESE NUMBERS not only spell bad news for Liberia but stresses the urgency of government and international partners to prioritize the lighting of the RIA highway and curb the rising number of deaths on the highway.

ONE OF THOSE DEATHS also took the life of Chief Cyril Allen Jr.  in May 2016 when his Nissan Pathfinder (plate A61644) struck a heavy-duty Renault truck sharing space with the main road and the side of the RIA road.

AUTHORITIES SAY nearly 90 percent of crashes are caused at least in part by bad decisions and dangerous habits by drivers but mainly by broken-down trucks on the major highway.

IN THE WAKE of this latest crash, it is important that authorities dedicate focus and resources to traffic safety education and enforcement efforts and make funds available for the installation of streetlights on the busy airport route.

TRUCKS NOT MEETING the standards for plying the streets should not be allowed to do so and serious preconditions should be made to require reflectors on vehicles in case there is a breakdown.

TOO MANY LIVES are being lost when they could be prevented, too many good and decent lives are being carelessly lost when they can be easily prevented.

UNTIL THESE STEPS ARE TAKEN, MOTORISTS THEMSELVES should begin exercising extreme caution when plying the busy airport routes and keep an eye out for sitting duck trucks, waiting to claim another unsuspecting prey.