BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – After recent reports of increased accidents on the Buchanan-Monrovia highway led to citizens calling for authorities to do more, police in Grand Bassa have started enforcing road safety laws along the highway.
“We have observed with grave concern that there have been [an] increase in accidents on the road,” said Augustine Snatts, the deputy commander of the police in Grand Bassa. “We are observing drivers that are driving above their speed limit and cars that are defective, cars that have not been registered, [and] drivers driving without license. Whenever we see such vehicles, we have them impounded [and] issue tickets so that they can pay in government revenue.”
The highway patrol was instituted barely a week after The Bush Chicken’s report gathered comments from residents in communities along the highway, who complained that not enough was being done to ensure their safety when traveling.
Police had noted that 63 accidents occurred along the Monrovia-Buchanan highway from January to August this year, resulting in 22 deaths. The accidents injured 137 persons and involved 93 vehicles, leaving 85 damaged.
At one checkpoint, the deputy police boss could be seen directing violators off the road to be parked. Among the types of vehicles stopped were the ubiquitous overloaded vehicles or those with two occupants in the front passenger seat. Others had no license plates. Snatts said the exercise is meant to serve as a deterrent to drivers who are violating the law.
Although he said the police faced logistical problems, they would continuously have officers posted along the highway.
Snatts said the first phase of the plan would see police monitor the stretch of the road between Cotton Tree, Margibi and Buchanan, Grand Bassa for three weeks. Afterward, he said an operational plan would be submitted to the police headquarters in Monrovia. If fully supported with logistics, he said the highway patrol would become permanent.
Besides ensuring they follow safety provisions when driving, Snatts also urged drivers and owners of disabled vehicles to ensure that the vehicle is on the shoulder of the road.
“Any car that we will see along the road, trust me we are going to work along with ArcelorMittal so that we can have the tow truck taking those cars to the police station,” he said, suggesting a partnership with the mining giant.
Snatts also warned government officials that they would face the consequences if caught violating the law.
“Once you exceed your speed limit and we observe it, we will go after you and talk to you for the first time because we cannot have government cars impounded,” he said. “But when we talk to you for the first and we notice it for the second time, we [will] make the proper notification through our bosses and it will reach to your ministry, and I think action will be taken from there.”
Snatts called on citizens to not be intimidated by the enforcement of traffic laws, but to see it as a way to provide everyone with safe travel along the highway. Nevertheless, Snatts said disorderly conduct by drivers retaliating against police officers for enforcing the traffic law would result in arrests.
Featured photo by Sampson David