A matter of life and death

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday June 3rd, 2015

 THE tragic death of a teenager on one of Port Moresby’s busiest roads three weeks ago highlights the imminent dangers that thousands of pedestrians face in the capital city everyday.

Fifteen-year-old George John, known as Jerry to his friends, was on his way to school on May 7 when a car ploughed into him at Erima. 

He was admitted to the Port Moresby General Hospital emergency unit with head injuries but died five days later. 

John’s body was flown to Mt Hagen yesterday after a moving funeral service at the Taurama Dove Funeral Home chapel on Monday.

This horrific death will for a long time haunt the family who identified the street kid and looked after him at Life PNG Care, a charity organisation that cares for homeless children. 

While the current road deaths toll in Port Moresby may be low, there will come a time when pedestrians will be struck down by vehicles on a daily basis.

Do the relevant authorities want to wait for that to happen or will they act now to make our thoroughfares safer?

It can be safely stated that road-safety is almost non-existent in Port Moresby. 

Aside from the weekly road checks by officers of the Government-owned Motor Vehicles Insurance Ltd (MVIL), little or no attention is paid to reckless drivers who break every rule in the traffic book. 

These drivers deliberately ignore traffic rules and driving over the speed limit, fail to stop at pedestrian crossings and run the red lights. 

Many of them drive under the influence of liquor and pose great danger to 

pedestrians and other motorists.

According to NCD traffic police, the number of road accidents had increased significantly in the past few years. 

Statistics showed that most victims were pedestrians. 

“We have a growing population and increasing number of vehicles so pedestrians must follow traffic rules and cross roads when it’s clear,” a traffic police spokesman said recently.

He added that tougher penalties must be imposed on traffic offenders to deter them from committing the same or similar offences. 

“We are doing our best but the penalty must be tougher for the offenders.”

Police have urged parents to educate their children about road safety, especially crossing roads. 

“Use school crossings at all times but never walk over the crossing immediately,” the spokesman said 

“Stand at the edge of the crossing to alert the oncoming vehicle. 

“The driver must stop before you cross the road.”

With the influx of vehicles into national’s capital over the past few years, traffic jams have become a way of life for motorists with long queues at traffic light intersections that can test a driver’s patience and understanding.

A driver who runs the red light for the first time without incident can count himself or herself lucky. 

He or she may not be so lucky the second time around.

Those drivers who constantly run the red lights because they believe nothing can stop them will sooner or later face the reality of a nasty accident. 

They can count themselves lucky if they survive.

These are the culprits that must be stopped before they injure or kill themselves and other innocent road users.

As well, the introduction of alcohol breath-testing for drivers must not be further delayed. 

Port Moresby is full of drunken drivers who also think they are the kings of the road when they are intoxicated. 

They too must be halted in their tracks as they are a menace to our society.

Road safety and the adherence of traffic laws must become a top priority for the police and other relevant government agencies.

It is imperative that spot cameras are installed with police presence at traffic light intersections to detect and apprehend offenders.

The presence of traffic police patrolling the roads and streets is a comforting sight for law-abiding motorists and pedestrians.

It is a matter of life and death that these measures are implemented immediately.

Special police operations will be conducted before and during the Pacific Games in July to make our city roads and streets safe.

These efforts must continue into the future.