Good roads but bad drivers and vehicles

Letters, Normal

The National , Monday, May 30, 2011

I HAVE listened to various arguments regarding the Poreporena freeway.
So let’s look at the pro­blem from a slightly different angle.
* What is the main cause of all the motor accidents – bad driving or mechanical failures?
* Pedestrians – in most cases, they try to cross at wrong time.
Now let’s also look at another road in Port Moresby that also has similar high fatalities – Wai­gani Drive.
It has a flat even surface, yet the main causes of accidents are due to human error or mechanical faults.
No one blames the accidents on this road’s design.
Then we have the Highlands Highway, the accident ratio on it is just as high.
Again, almost all accidents are caused by human error or mechanical faults.
Let’s not get too carried away blaming the road.
You cannot design roads to suit bad drivers or me­chanically unsound vehicles – the costs would be prohibitive.
There are probably just as many accidents, if not more, on the other roads in Port Moresby but not as widely reported due to the minor nature of them.
Yes, I do believe you cannot put a price on a human life.
However, a solution must be found.
How do we do this? Do we:
1. Rebuild that section of the road – which will be come at a certain cost;
2. Construct barriers at the bottom – again costs and also unroadworthy vehicles will still cause accidents and probably still cause deaths;
3. Divert heavy traffic – probably the best solution. However, we must bear in mind that this will place more pressure and costs through wear and tear on other roads that were not designed to carry the heavy loads. Again it will be costly;
4. Place more emphasis on driver training for truck/heavy transport drivers – long term improvement of driver habits; and
5. We do what we do very well – form a committee to investigate and then leave the report on the shelf to collect dust.
I really don’t think there is an easy and cheap solution to this problem.
There has been talk about using the Baruni back road which is good idea.
However, we will place additional pressure on the existing traffic flow on the feeder roads.
Then we will also incur additional transport char­ges which will lead to an increase in food and servi­ces’ costs.
Another road that could be utilised is the back road through Kila Kila-Scratchly road.
But it also has a steep hill.
We must not forget that we have a major traffic flow problems now.
Diverting traffic will not alleviate that problem, only to make it worse.
Land has to be freed up to allow construction of new roads very quickly or it will take more than an hour just to drive to Port Moresby from Boroko.  
I suggest we get a team of thinkers together to look into the problem, doers not talkers, and not all engineers either. We need to look laterally as well.
Sometimes, simple approach works and good idea sometimes comes out of the mouths of children.


Noel Williams
Port Moresby