Big plans, big budgets amount to nothing

Editorial, Normal

TWO people were killed in a nasty road accident in Port Moresby last weekend and several others were injured.
The accident would have been avoidable but for the careless driving of one of the drivers, who crashed into another vehicle forcing it to overturn onto the next lane.
While recognising the fact that motor traffic accidents will happen in the best of conditions, and anywhere, we must ask the question: Is the big budget Road Safety is Not a Game campaign, funded by the Motor Vehicle Insurance Trust and promoted by Australian NRL big names, getting anywhere near educating errant drivers?
If the evidence presented on the streets of Port Moresby are anything to go by, we can answer our own question with one word: “zilch!”
Few, if anybody on the road, today is driving with the kind of care and respect for others that is promoted by the road safety campaign.
If road safety is, indeed, not a game, then how do we make sure that it is serious, life threatening stuff?
The campaign started well but, now, seems to be foundering a bit.
Any campaign of this sort must be for the long term. Most, especially, it must be resourced properly and sustained.
Sustaining of any campaign in this country has been a most difficult proposition in the past and we cannot see it changing in the near future.
Take this road safety campaign, for instance.
In the first few weeks, we seemed to have a massive education drive and road safety people were to be found at major bus stops in the nation’s capital.
The media campaign was huge and, for a little while, there was the feeling that this road safety thing was going to be a big success.
Since the campaign began, whether by design or by coincidence, at about the time of the major accident in the Markham Valley which claimed more than 40 lives, there was goodwill all around.
Buses were made to drive at normal speeds.
Vehicles were checked to ensure they were properly registered.
There was a competition begun for good drivers of passenger motor vehicles.
This all seems to have fizzled out somehow. It is not being policed anymore.
PMVs are taking short-cuts or terminating their routes halfway through.
It suddenly seems as if this has been one big mistake. It certainly appears to have been a big waste of money. Nothing appears to have changed.
This appears to be the same with almost every major public undertaking from public education campaigns to public inquiries and Government commitments.
We are high at the beginning but, when the going gets tough, we seem to just throw our hands in the air and give up.
Remember the anti-gun campaign?
The roadshow took gun committee members to almost every province in the country. People from all sectors of the community came out to speak against the proliferation of guns and ammunition in the country.
It appeared as if, finally, the people’s concerns would be listened to. Alas, it was not to be.
After a year and many millions of kina later, when a massive report was presented to Government, the report was never heard of again.
On May 12 last year, people took to the streets of Port Moresby protesting the influx of foreigners, particularly of Asian origin, whom they claimed were taking their jobs and business opportunities.
The inquiry which followed received wide publicity but, after several months, it went absolutely quiet and that is where it is today.
The Government’s once hugely popular district treasury programme has now been all but forgotten and the resources allocated for them diverted to other pursuits.
We are good on the initiation but never on the finish.
That is often the difference between success and failure.
The good programmes and campaigns are those that can be sustained for a long period. That means commitment of time, money and staffing resources for the duration of a sustained campaign.
Quick and short bursts of big budget and high energy, high profile campaigns are doomed to failure in a country where the message just needs to bee repeated over and over again and, most importantly, where it needs to get out to the people, many of whom are inaccessible.