– Business people, others beg for GOL intervention
Reports gathered and corroborated on the ease of plying the Bo waterside highway in Grand Cape Mount County seem to confirm widespread extortion and intimidation by government security agents at the numerous checkpoints along the highway, especially by immigration officers.
On a fact finding mission in a commercial vehicle on Tuesday, our reporter observed immigration officers at some checkpoints extorting money from and intimidating business people and travellers.
On several occasions, genuine documents were presented by passengers to immigration officers for verification.
But despite checking the authenticity of the documents, the presenters of the documents were still coerced by immigration officers to pay bribes to retrieve their documents.
At some of the checkpoints, immigration officers were involved in intensive shouting bouts with travellers and businesspeople over documents, which seem to be their usual tactic to fleece unsuspecting and hapless travellers.
Sadly, some of those who argued with the immigration officers were subjected to hours of detention, making their journey utterly frustrating.
After some money exchanged hands, they were set free and allowed to continue their journey.
During interviews with the Daily Observer on Tuesday, some of the detained people asked why it is so difficult to do internal travel in Liberia.
Businessmen and women told the Daily Observer at the Bo Waterside checkpoint that the Liberian government needs to urgently intervene to ensure the free movement of goods and services in that part of the country.
“In our own country, and we are intimidated and have to bribe security people before we can travel freely while foreigners walk with heads high through our security checkpoints,” said businesswoman Sarah Meatta Fahnbulleh.
“I must admit to you that we are going through too many difficulties at the hands of our own security officers in this part of our country,” she added.
According to businessman Julius B. Kromah, a wholesale and retail dealer of cement and plastic dishes, too much is being spent on the Bo Waterside, Bomi and Monrovia highways, which affects the price customers will eventually pay for his goods.
“We need a real rescue from the hands of security officers assigned at our various checkpoints on this Bo Waterside highway,” Mr. Kromah stressed.
He claimed that during most of his trips with his goods on the Bo Waterside highway, the majority of his profit is given to security officers assigned at the various checkpoints through bribes.
Another woman, Madam Cecelia Beh Massaquoi, who is mainly engaged in cross border commerce, noted that immigration officers have become a real menace on the Bo Waterside highway.
“We are confronted and asked for money on every trip we make across the border to Sierra Leone, although our documents are correct and up to date,” Madam Massaquoi claimed.
“I must sincerely admit to you that we are the employers of the immigration and other security personnel at our various checkpoints in this part of our country,” Madam Massaquoi asserted.
When contacted at the Bo Waterside head office of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), senior LIS and security officers declined to make comments and only added that they are not clothed with authority to make official comments to the media.