In some parts of the world, including Belize, manatees are an endangered species. The sea cow as it is also referred is a perpetual victim of hit and run incidents as they are normally killed by boat propellers. As environmentalists are putting signs in areas frequented by the mammal to reduce accidents, people are also looking for solutions to traffic accidents along the country’s highways. Looking at the stats in the city, there is an increasing number of traffic fatalities on the northern highway between miles one and three. This past Monday sixty-nine year old Liang Sheng Heng was knocked down and killed. Today, Stephen O’Keke, local businessman and politician, called the media out to the Northern Highway to pitch his concern and propose a solution to reduce the alarming number of accidents.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Stephen O’Keke, who is a resident of the northern highway, says that the traffic fatalities in the last three months have him concerned. He says that that particularly the stretch between flag monument and haul-over bridge, must be addressed.

Stephen O’Keke

Stephen O’Keke, Concerned Citizen/Businessman

“Well I am out here today to draw attention to the fact that the safety of pedestrians and passengers is the collective responsibility of us all and of every driver who uses this road should also be very careful.”

His suggestion, this model of what he calls a “Thumb Bump.” It is similar to the design of thumb tack; this one is bigger and made from a partly wrought common metal called durilium, which is commonly used to make house-hold appliances. Here is how this will work:

Stephen O’Keke

“So we have this thing called thumb bumps. So what you simply do as it is here, it is driven into the street. I am suggesting this because of the geology of Belize City. There is always the sink, the need to repair and the need to break up the street. With this type of bump you can actually re-use it every-time you have repair the street and to fix it to make it work you don’t have to break up the street you know. You do not need bull-dozers, construction and planning period to get this thing done. To get this thing done we can select the areas and within a week we can get these thumb bumps within the correct positions.”

Andrea Polanco

“So this is what it looks like when you’ve inserted it?”

Stephen O’Keke

“When it has been in place it is almost flat and you can drive over it very comfortably at thirty or forty miles an hour but above fifty miles an hour, it will bump you, it will jerk the vehicle and with that you have the need to slow down.”

“Thumb Bump” is one of O’Keke’s cost-effective ideas to mitigate the number of traffic mishaps. It is one that he designed which he says has a life of about twenty-five years; so is this just one of O’Keke’s many business ventures? He said he has done his research.

Stephen O’Keke

“This is one of the main measures that needs to be looked at because a person driving under the influence of alcohol cannot cause a major fatality unless driving at high speed. This makes it impossible to do, almost difficult to accomplish that. We are suggesting between monument and Haulover, at least four of these thumb bumps spaced in six feet positions.”

Andrea Polanco

“So this will be pretty new for Belize, I believe?”

Stephen O’Keke

“Well in itself because this will be made of metal and every time the vehicle runs over it polishes it so it reflects the sun and reflects the head lamp in the night so you can’t miss it and it is re-usable.”

Andrea Polanco

“So you’re making this suggestion on what grounds…?”

Stephen O’Keke

“And it can be manufactured in Belize so we don’t have to wait for several months for them to made. I designed them but it can be manufactured in Belize by anybody.”

Andrea Polanco

“Have they been tested, though?”

Stephen O’Keke

“They have been tested because they couldn’t just be designed casually. They’ve been designed with all the technical and engineering considerations.”

Andrea Polanco

“Tested where?”

Stephen O’Keke

“The material is made from delirium.”

Andrea Polanco

“Tested where?”

Stephen O’Keke

“On vehicles; on the roads.”

Andrea Polanco

“Here in Belize?”

Stephen O’Keke

“In Belize and of course with all the traffic calculations you need to know how fast vehicles can run over them and what kind of shock it gives to the vehicle.”

Andrea Polanco

“You aren’t just suggesting this as a means of business for yourself though?”

Stephen O’Keke

“Not a means of business that is why I am saying everybody could do it. One death preventable is one death too much. Just imagine, if it were your wife or son, you will want anything to be done; whoever does it.”

O’Keke said that in recent months he made contacts with the respective ministry and the city council. He is yet to get a tangible response from them. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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