Friday, January 27, 2006

TRAFFIC LIGHTS FOR LIBERIA!

Liberia gets first traffic lights
By Jonathan Paye-Layleh
BBC News, Monrovia

Liberian policewoman directing traffic
Liberia's traffic police hope the new lights will ease their workload
Liberia's capital, Monrovia, has got a working set of traffic lights for the first time since war broke out more than 16 years ago.

The lights, built by the peacekeeping mission of the UN, have given motorists new hope that normality is returning.

More than half of Liberia's motorists were not driving when traffic lights last operated in the city.

However, the city does not have a regular supply of electricity and so the lights are often out of order.

The lights are located near Monrovia's main port - a key entry point to Liberia, which can be subject to terrible traffic jams.

Lessons needed?

People who drove in the city before everything was destroyed in the 14-year war say the war-time drivers need to learn how the lights work.

But some of the new drivers argue that, even though up to the outbreak of war they had not driven, at least they saw traffic lights before the country collapsed.

Although the traffic lights are not always working, they have eased the workload for traffic police assigned to the port area.

Huge traffic jams, however, continue to bring the city centre to a complete standstill on a regular basis.

One traffic policewoman said she hoped the lights would be extended to the rest of the city to make the job of directing traffic easier.

However, that will have to wait until electricity is restored to the city.

During her election campaign, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf - inagurated last week - promised to supply electricity in the middle of town within the first six months of her presidency.

What is not clear, though, is whether this will include any more traffic lights.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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