Extortion, Intimidation on BO Waterside Highway?

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– 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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This attitude exhibited by security personnel on the Bo Waterside Highway should not be taken for granted. Security personnel who have the tendency of coercing and extorting travelers and merchants should be penalize for their insincere, illigitamate and unethical act. Likewise what one business man said “their act affects the price consumers buy goods”, this reveals that not only the merchants are affected by this bad practice by security assigned on the Bo Waterside Highway, but it also affects consumers who purchased those merchants goods. There’s a need for government to send monitoring agent prontoly, to monitor that part of the country and other areas with similar situation, so as to avoid such unfortunate happenings.

  2. Indeed, a real freed country is a country in which free movements of goods and people are hindered
    in the name of security. Tiny country as Liberia is only needs check points at border entrance mainly
    for customs and security combined. Look at this big United States. Only check points are at the
    borders for security and customs. Africa has a long way to go. Yet, we can do better! from Monrovia
    to Grand Gedeh County and other areas, except for borders, I mean officially recognized borders
    for customs and security. Will we ever free the country?

  3. Most of the check points are mainly established for money making. Once the travelers are checked upon arrival in the country, they should not be recheck again until they arrive in Monrovia. Why should you bother your own citizens who make trips to Sierra Leone and Guinea to purchased goods? What is the purpose of ECOWAS in the first place when there is no free movement in the region?

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